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Trying to put recent Syracuse football scheduling into context

A decade of “huh?” can make it a difficult climb

Syracuse v USC Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images

Last week, we looked at the Syracuse Orange’s questionable road trip to play the Missouri Tigers. That led to a longer discussion about not only the 2012 schedule, but recent Syracuse scheduling.

You all know that it’s a topic that we’re passionate about and maybe we can add more context to the discussion by looking at two of Syracuse’s Northeast football peers. Take a look at the non-conference schedules of the Boston College Eagles and Rutgers Scarlet Knights and compare them to Syracuse.

Non conference schedules since 2010

Year Syracuse Boston College Rutgers
Year Syracuse Boston College Rutgers
2010 @Akron, @Washington, Maine,Colgate, BC Weber St, Kent St, Notre Dame, @Syracuse Norfolk State, @FIU, UNC, Tulane, Army
2011 Wake Forest, Rhode Island, @USC, Toledo, @Tulane Northwestern, @UCF, UMass, @Notre Dame NC Central, @UNC, Ohio, Navy, Army
2012 Northwestern, USC (N), Stony Brook, @Minnesota, @Missouri Maine, @Northwestern, @Army, Notre Dame @Tulane, Howard, @Arkansas, Kent St, Army
2013 Penn State (N), @Northwestern, Wagner, Tulane Villanova, @USC, Army, @New Mexico St @Fresno St, Norfolk St, E. Michigan, Arkansas, @SMU
2014 Villanova, @Central Michigan, Maryland, Notre Dame (N) UMass (N), USC, Maine, Colorado St Washington St (N), Howard, @Navy, Tulane
2015 Rhode Island, Central Michigan, LSU, @USF Maine, Howard, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame (N) Norfolk St, Washington St, Kansas, @Army
2016 Colgate, USF, @UConn, Notre Dame (N) UMass (N), Wagner, Buffalo, UConn, @Washington, Howard, New Mexico
2017 Central Conn., Middle Tennessee, Central Michigan, @LSU @NIU, Notre Dame, Central Michigan, UConn Washington, Eastern Michigan, Morgan State
2018 @Western Michigan, Wagner, UConn, Notre Dame (N) UMass, Holy Cross, @Purdue, Temple Texas State, @Kansas, Buffalo
2019 @Liberty, @Maryland, Western Michigan, Holy Cross Richmond, Kansas, @Rutgers, @Notre Dame UMass, Boston College,Liberty
2020 @Rutgers, Colgate, @Western Michigan, Liberty Ohio, @Kansas, Purdue, Holy Cross Monmouth, Syracuse, @Temple
2021 @Ohio, Rutgers, Albany, Liberty @UMass, @Temple, Missouri Temple, @Syracuse, Delaware
2022 UConn, @Purdue, Notre Dame Rutgers, Maine, @UConn, @Notre Dame @BC, @Temple,
Home 30 32 33
Road 18 16 14
Neutral 5 3 1
P5 Opponents 19 19 14

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish appear a lot on Syracuse and BC’s schedule and for some reason both schools decided that adding the USC Trojans made sense- maybe because they’re private schools I guess. One notable difference is that while the Orange were playing games against the LSU Tigers, both BC and Rutgers scheduled the Kansas Jayhawks.

Even though the overall numbers aren’t too different, I want to point out that during this time period BC’s best ACC record was 4-4 yet they appeared in six bowl games to Syracuse’s four. The difference between the two isn’t as simple as scheduling yourself to get at least three wins in the non-conference schedule, though it’s clear that even when BC dropped one they shouldn’t, they were covered. BC and Rutgers looked to keep non-conference games within reason, while the Orange kept turning the difficulty sliders higher.

I get the argument that fans want to see big names, but at least the Met Life games brought some needed cash to the athletic department. When you can play one game in the New York City area and make significantly more money than hosting a home game — as was the case for Syracuse with USC — you can make the argument that it’s helping the program. When you schedule a game to draw one crowd of 40,000 or more, it doesn’t make up for years of other games where you can’t draw thirty thousand.

Syracuse v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

It’s not just about who you play, it’s when and where. In 2012, Syracuse was already heading to Minnesota and playing USC at MetLife so taking a road game at Missouri wasn’t a great idea. Last season with a new QB taking over, Syracuse opened with two road games. We saw what that did to the fragile confidence of a young group. At some point you have to give your team (and head coach) a chance to succeed.

There is hope going forward though, Orange fans. The 2021 season brings us home games against Rutgers, Liberty and Albany with a road game at Ohio. That’s the type of balance of opponent and location Syracuse needs. While I’m not a big fan of the UConn series, it’s better to play them than most of the MAC. Trying to get a series with similar level P5 opponents like Purdue (as SU has already set up) is better than trying to take on LSU.

Let the Orange find some consistent winning seasons before you ramp up the challenges. Doing so might not make some people happy, but I’d bet those same people would rather be 7-5 and bowling than 5-7 and talking about what could have been.