With the 2020 ACC football schedule coming out this week (Wednesday, to be precise), Syracuse Orange football scheduling has been on my mind quite a bit. We recently discussed FCS scheduling and the Group of Five gap in the 2022 slate. Now, let’s chat through:
Future Power Five Scheduling
First, as a refresher, the ACC has a mandate on the books for every team to schedule at least one Power Five opponent in non-conference play. Along with teams in the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC, that list also includes Notre Dame and BYU. Notably, the list has not publicly included Army (and according to one report back in 2015, Army won’t count). We’ll get back to that shortly.
So who does Syracuse has scheduled to fulfill that obligation? Here’s what future P5 opponents look like...
2020: at Rutgers
2022: Notre Dame, Purdue
2023: at Purdue
2025: at Notre Dame
2026: at Notre Dame
2029: Notre Dame
2034: at Notre Dame
You’ll notice copious amounts of Notre Dame (thanks, ACC deal!), randomly doubling up on P5 teams in 2023 (why?) and some gaps like 2024, 2027 and 2028 in the “near” term.
While it’s silly to have to fill out schedules five or more years out, it’s the reality we live in right now, so college football programs need to adapt. While I’m less concerned about the openings beyond 2029, the gaps on this decade’s schedule are a little more problematic.
I mentioned Army earlier, and it’s worth repeating that the ACC has never said that Army counts toward the P5 quota. Through a spokesperson, Syracuse has previously told TNIAAM that they do. But inquiries to the ACC on the matter have not received a response. And the article linked to above (admittedly from 2015) would seem to indicate it’s not the case — or at least wasn’t about five years ago.
The Orange currently have two games scheduled for 2024: Army, at Ohio. So if we’re still searching for a P5 team for that year, who’s available?
BYU. And Washington State.
Notably, those aren’t the only P5 teams with openings for 2024. More, they’re the ones that are available based on established scheduling practices and current openings. Plenty more P5 schools have spots available and we could very well wind up with one of those should they choose to add another P5 to their respective slates. But the more likely (to me, anyway) result would seemingly indicate we’re either scheduling Wazzu or BYU — both with eventual return dates. Regardless of which option SU picks, hopefully it’s wrapped up soon before there are even fewer options available.
There are other openings in the near future, and those are at least a little simpler to fill. For 2027 and 2028, specifically, here are the other P5 teams looking for other P5 opponents:
2027: Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Penn State, California, Washington, Florida, BYU
2028: Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, California, Oregon State, Tennessee, Ole Miss, BYU
For starters, you can cross off UL, UNC and UVA for 2027, and Georgia Tech and UNC for 2028 as they’re all ACC squads. They’re included here just to show who else is looking for games. And Florida (2027) is here not because they “need” another P5 but because their recent scheduling shows them facing 2-3 P5 teams per year.
That practice of scheduling two or more P5 teams is starting to grow among bluebloods, and that’s something to watch as Syracuse looks out at future opponents. In theory, there are enough dance partners for every P5 to have one and fulfill conference requirements for schedules. But if teams are doubling and tripling up, the opportunities run dry a lot quicker.
If I’m Syracuse, I’m probably opting for Indiana above, since you can get the easy home-and-home for 2027 and 2028, and maybe even tie in a hoops series too (outside of the constructs of the ACC/B1G Tournament). BYU is feasible as well. Foes like Cal or Washington are less sensible. Despite the likely loss, certainly most Orange fans would want to face Penn State for history’s sake.
Who would you like to schedule of the options above for 2027 and 2028? And what’s the best option for 2024? With luck, perhaps this conversation spurs some action on the scheduling front so Syracuse can be a little more settled on this front by the time we get to summer.