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Why Syracuse football will finish 3-9 in 2021

The beginning of prediction SZN is here!

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Ed. Note — As has become a (much derided) tradition, TNIAAM writers will tell you all week why this year’s Syracuse football team will finish with certain W-L records. These projections will get better as we go along, so hopefully you’re done being mad by mid-week or so.

Monday: 3-9 (Andy)

Tuesday: 4-8 (Christian)

Wednesday: 5-7 (John)

Thursday: 6-6 (Steve)

Friday: 7-5 (Kevin)

The Syracuse Orange are a few weeks away from kicking off a 2021 campaign attempting to do something better than last season’s single win effort. As is the case with most seasons, this upcoming year has a high level variance in potential outcomes. There are so many unknowns with the team that are based on health and talent improvements, we can cover the whole gamete with a week of predictions. We’re starting off with a dark timeline, one where the Orange losses a lot more games than they win.


at Ohio Bobcats: If you go by SP+ or Vegas, this game is a toss up or the Orange are a slight underdog. This will undoubtedly annoy plenty of fans, but Ohio has had more regular season and post season success in the last half decade than the ‘Cuse. That said, the architect of those wins, Frank Solich, has retired. The Bobcats kept continuity by hiring Tim Albin, the offensive coordinator for every Solich team, but it’s still a head coaching change. There’s enough between what ‘Cuse is supposed to be and what the Bobcats aren’t to think the Orange eek this one out. W, (1-0) (0-0)

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: I would guess that every Orange fan is annoyed that Greg Schiano is finding success in his second go round with Rutgers. What’s even more annoying? The success seems legit. While Rutgers is still not the class of the B1G, they’ve made legitimate improvements on the field are good enough to beat ‘Cuse and I have no doubt this game ends stupidly. Maybe not this dumb, but it won’t be pretty. L, (1-1) (0-0)

Albany Great Danes: Albany is bad. Syracuse isn’t good, but they will beat down the Great Danes and restore some early confidence with the fans. W, (2-1) (0-0)

Liberty Flames: It pains me to no end that Liberty have built a pesky, bowl caliber program in no time, and they have Malik Willis. With everything being equal, I think the Orange are probably a better overall team than Liberty. Except they have the game breaking QB, and we don’t know if anyone on ‘Cuse’s roster can match that level of explosiveness and high level performance. L, (2-2) (0-0)

at Florida State Seminoles: The Seminoles have the talent to be a great program, and even when they are underachieving, they are an average team. You’ll see this as a theme in the ACC part of the schedule, but if this game was at the Dome, I’d feel a lot more confident in the Orange. Alas, ‘Cuse has to head down to Tallahassee and play in one of the more difficult venues in the country. L, (2-3) (0-1)

Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Even last year, the Orange were able to win a home ACC game. Wake Forest is lowest ranked ACC team in SP+ to come to the Dome this season, and they don’t seem to have any true “game breakers” that swing the game their way. I have faith a healthy Orange team can take down the Deacs and get the Orange in a good space before the rest of the ACC schedule. W, (3-3) (1-1)

Clemson v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Clemson Tigers: See, normally I post “lol” but for whatever reason, Dino Babers teams give Clemon a hard time. So it’s going to be a loss, but it’ll be closer than anyone expects. L, (3-4) (1-2)

at Virginia Tech Hokies: The Hokies occupy the almost exclusive ACC space on the edge of “blowing it all up” and “winning the Costal.” Their days of being a fundamentally sound, blitz happy, elite special teams program are gone, but they can put up a ton of points, and have a solid amount of talent on defense, and are always a tough team to beat at home. This game could exist in a totally different space if the Hokies are spiraling. However, it will be a must win for Justin Fuente no matter where they stand. L, (3-5) (1-3)

Boston College Eagles: Jeff Hafley has loaded up the Eagles with transfers, a new offensive system, and a new energy. They showed the world a proof of concept last season, and the Orange gave them all they could handle last year. It wasn’t pretty, but BC got it done. Do I think BC is suddenly a top half ACC program? No, but I think they have improved, and even if ‘Cuse has improved, Hafley has shown they can win in the Dome. L, (3-6) (1-4)

at Louisville Cardinals: Here’s another program that could be on the edge of a major transition by the time the Orange roll into town. The sparknotes are that Scott Satterfield made it obvious he doesn’t think Louisville is worthy of being his final destination, and the admin of the University aren’t happy. The Cards have to produce on the field this year for Satterfield to keep his job, and they haven’t by this game, there will probably be someone new in charge trying to make a point. L, (3-7) (1-5)

at NC State Wolfpack: The Orange have not played well in Raleigh since joining the ACC, and last year feels like a perfect embodiment of what to expect with these games going forward: messy on both sides, with the Orange ending up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. This game is so late in the season that we’ll have a great idea if this is the 2019 (4-8) or 2020 (8-4) ‘Pack, but either would be able to beat Orange with the game in North Carolina. L, (3-8) (1-6)

Pittsburgh Panthers: If you’re keeping track, that’s 5 straight losses the Orange have ripped off. Games against Pitt don’t usually break Orange streaks, they continue them. In this case, I think the Panthers put the final nail in ‘Cuse’s coffin, and Narduzzi gets to continue to brag about the Orange program falling apart. L, (3-9) (1-7)


What will probably scare most Orange fans is that this is not even the worst-case scenario. Outside of Albany, both Ohio and Wake are totally capable of defeating the Orange. We’ve seen what injuries can do to this team if in key positions. If this comes to pass, sure, it won’t be the worst that could happen. But this won’t be good enough for most Syracuse fans, and the calls for change will be loud, even if it does take a few good bounces to even get here.