Now that the Syracuse Orange’s 2020 football schedule has been released (along with the rest of the ACC’s), we can at least talk about the upcoming season with a little more context. Obviously this past season was incredibly disappointing, but we have a chance to put all that to rest with a better effort this fall.
As we’ve done in the past, we’re going opponent-by-opponent below and assessing win probabilities for each game to come to a reasonable guess at how this season turns out. Last year, we were wrong, sure. Though also not as wrong as the other time we were wrong. Sorry in advance for not picking us to go 15-0.
Week 1: at Boston College Eagles
Harder opener than last year, yes. But also a rebuilding BC team with a new coach, new system and no A.J. Dillon. There are few places less imposing for a Friday night game than Chestnut Hill, and despite this one not being a cakewalk, I also see Syracuse having a slight advantage. Win likelihood: 60%
Week 2: at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Maybe Greg Schiano gets Rutgers back on track despite the copious disadvantages of playing in the Big Ten East. Still, that reclamation project seems unlikely to take hold by the second game of his return. Win likelihood: 72%
Week 3: Colgate Raiders
FCS game, home opener. Pretty self-explanatory. The only thing that gives me any pause whatsoever is the fact that the Raiders have been reasonably good in recent years. Win likelihood: 98%
Week 4: at Western Michigan Broncos
This goddamn matchup again. Luckily, the weapons that got us a bit concerned in for the last couple years are gone. So as much as WMU likely remains one of the more talented teams in the MAC, this one should be a victory by a similar (or hopefully, greater) margin than what we’ve seen in the last two iterations of this game. Win likelihood: 78%
Week 5: Louisville Cardinals
If you’ve convinced yourself of 4-0 by this point (not a stretch), you may be trying to talk yourself into this one, too. With an extra year to revamp the defense, Louisville should be better on that side of the ball. And with one of the ACC’s better quarterbacks (and a mobile one at that) under center in Micale Cunningham, I’m not loving our odds here. Win likelihood: 30%
Week 6: Bye Week Fightin’ Byes
Week 7: Liberty Flames
Liberty’s losing some talent from last year’s squad, but also gains some via a reasonably good recruiting class (for them). As long as Hugh Freeze isn’t coaching from a box, the Flames seem likely to look better than they did in last year’s opener. Hopefully we do too. Win likelihood: 80%
Week 8: at Clemson Tigers
Clemson losing the national title means they’re going to be out for blood in 2020. Hell hath no fury like a Dabo scorned. Win likelihood: 5%
Week 9: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Geoff Collins is going to fix Georgia Tech eventually. It’s just going to take a few years to get them out of the triple option doldrums they inhabited. Would rather face them earlier in the season, but still feel pretty good about nabbing a home win and finally avenging 2013’s drubbing down in Atlanta. Win likelihood: 60%
Week 10: at Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake could still fare reasonably well without Jamie Newman, and there’s enough returning talent on both sides of the ball that the Deacs will still be dangerous. Going to give them a slight advantage being the home team, though who knows what happens with the injury bug that usually hits them by this point in the schedule. Win likelihood: 40%
Week 11: N.C. State Wolfpack
Hard to get a read on the Pack after a rough 2019, but they’ll probably be better than whatever they looked like in the back half of last season. The home game helps Syracuse, especially if State’s offense remains MIA this fall. Slight nod to the Orange. Win likelihood: 55%
Week 12: Florida State Seminoles
Short rest is rarely great, and short rest against a more talented club like FSU seems like a struggle waiting to happen. If the Willie Taggart era has any lasting negative effects, they’re probably gone by this point. Maybe there’s some senior night magic at the Dome, though? Win likelihood: 20%
Week 13: at Pittsburgh Panthers
This is always a weird game, and on the road, even more so. Hopefully a bowl bid’s already wrapped up by this point. If not, I’m none too optimistic it happens here. Win likelihood: 35%
For the math-impaired, that’s .60+ .72 + .98 + .78 + .30 + .80+ .05 + .60 + .40 + .55 + .20 + .35 = 6.33
The BC opener and non-conference games help create a pretty good starting point here, and if Syracuse can get to 4-0, that boost this projection to 7.25. Not bad at all considering the season we just had to deal with. As always, the key is the toss-ups: BC, NC State, Georgia Tech, Wake, Pitt. Go 4-0 in non-conference and 2-3 against this group, and you’re bowling no matter what happens in the other games. But 1-4 or worse, you’ll need an upset.
Am I too optimistic above, though? Too pessimistic? Share your own projections below.