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Guessing which networks Syracuse football games appear on in 2021

Hopefully we aren’t shoved into the same RSN corner we were last year.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse Orange football fans are certainly aware that things went poorly for the team last season. Injuries and lack of offseason practice time were major parts of a disastrous 1-10 season, and as a result, the Orange received minimal opportunities at greater exposure on TV.

Out of 11 games, four appeared on the ACC RSN, five were on the ACC Network, one (Louisville) was on ESPN and another (Notre Dame) was on NBC. There’s a shot that some Syracuse fans around the country could’ve missed all but two contests. Plenty that live near SU didn’t get at least five games since the ACC Network doesn’t have carriage everywhere.

We’re not here to fix those problems, though. Instead, we’re opting to just predict what happens over the course of the season.

(all times ET)

Week 1: at Ohio Bobcats, noon (ESPNU)

Now, I’m taking some cues on this one from college football TV scheduling guru Matt Sarzyniak, but the ESPNU at noon slot does make sense. Since it’s an Ohio home game, ACC Network and RSN options are out (otherwise, it would be headed the RSN route). ESPN+ could be an option, I suppose. But something has to wind up on ESPNU there, and a P5 program isn’t the worst idea.

Week 2: Rutgers Scarlet Knights, noon (ACC Network)

This is actually one of the better ACC matchups of the week. It’s one of just four with a P5 opponent, but the Northeast-only nature of the viewership probably means another nooner — this one on ACC Network. On the bright side, if Syracuse can start 2-0, that could help future kickoff times and networks

Week 3: Albany Great Danes, 12:30 p.m. (RSN)

... But not this one. Most ACC squads have much better opponents for week three, so the Orange get tossed onto the RSN for an FCS foe that they hopefully make quick work of.

Week 4: Liberty Flames, 7 p.m. (ACC Network)

Despite the fact that Liberty could very well be ranked at this point and Syracuse could be 3-0, it’s a Friday night game up against Virginia vs. Wake Forest. Chances are the latter matchup goes to ESPN, so that puts the Orange on ACCN as the earlier kickoff.

Week 5: at Florida State Seminoles, 4 p.m. (ACC Network)

There’s a chance this one’s an ESPN2 game if both teams start well, or it could even shift into primetime given the slate of ACC matchups. Really, if both teams enter with a winning record, there’s a very good chance it’s not a nooner.

Week 6: Wake Forest Demon Deacons, noon (ACC Network)

Only five ACC games this Saturday, so makes it easier to slot into a good time/network. Unfortunately, though, this is probably the least appealing (nationally) matchup of those. And since they need an ACC Network game to lead off the day, this would seemingly be it.

Week 7: Clemson Tigers, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

WELL DOESN’T THIS LOOK FAMILIAR. Syracuse hosted Clemson on a Friday night back in 2017 and well, you’re aware what happened then. I’m not bold enough to predict the same thing happens this time around, yet am also not going to say it doesn’t given how close the Orange have been able to play the Tigers in recent seasons.

Week 8: at Virginia Tech Hokies, 4 p.m. (ACC Network)

This is when the real guesswork goes into overdrive. If Syracuse pulls off the upset vs. Clemson, or just looks pretty solid through this point in the schedule, then a matchup like this is clearly elevated. If not, we start seeing more RSN games. I’m tempted to believe this winds up in the middle, as a late afternoon kick on ACCN.

Week 9: Boston College Eagles, 12:30 p.m. (RSN)

If both of these teams are doing well, it could be elevated. But the regional nature of the game and history of how where this game usually gets slotted in means you’re watching on YES Network or your local facsimile.

Week 11: at Louisville Cardinals, noon (ACC Network)

Again, if both teams are very good, this is a later afternoon game. But this matchup hasn’t produced many great results in recent years (last single-digit margin was 2010) and there isn’t a ton of national appeal without either team being ranked.

Week 12: at N.C. State Wolfpack, 12:30 p.m. (RSN)

Another matchup with questionable interest outside of the fan bases. There’s a decent amount of buzz around NC State, however, and that’s what could get this matchup a better placement. If not the RSN treatment, perhaps there’s an afternoon slot available on ESPNU.

Week 13: Pittsburgh Panthers, 12:30 p.m. (RSN)

The persistent issue for Syracuse given the opponents most likely to close out schedules is that they’re unlikely to create much national buzz. So especially during a rivalry-focused week like this one, RSN’s the only place a game like SU/Pitt or SU/BC is going to sit unless both teams are ranked in the top 25.


What do you think? Too pessimistic? Too optimistic? Weigh in on your own ideal TV schedle below.