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Why Syracuse football will finish 6-6 in 2021

We’re heading towards optimistic, here.

NCAA Football: Duke at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Ed. Note — As has become a (much derided) tradition, TNIAAM writers will tell you all week why this year’s Syracuse Orange 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.

Well, we’re into bowl territory in this exercise. This one seems like a bit of weird situation as it’s plausible, but also seems unlikely. Where we land, I guess you’ll see after the breakdown...

at Ohio Bobcats: I know some books have them as a favorite, but any chance at bowling seems to point to this having to be a win, unless you want me to really put my crazy-pants on. The coaching change and talent gap are enough for the Orange to walk away from this secure in their opener. W, (1-0), (0-0)

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: I was at the last mess of a game that these two squads played. While both are in new conference homes since then, Syracuse now desperately needs this one to make it to six wins. It’s the bottom of the ACC vs the bottom of the B1G. But the Knights were better on the road than at home last year, and squeak it out late. L, (1-1) (0-0)

Albany Great Danes: The FCS game of reprieve, and right at the appropriate time. A game to give Tommy DeVito and the receivers some more time to get in sync, not show too much of the playbook and rest some legs, heading into the next stretch on the schedule. The Orange take this one handily. W, (2-1) (0-0)

Liberty Flames: This has been a weird series, and not just because Liberty’s involved. In general, the two games to-date have looked sloppy and unfocused (even in the 2019 win). This time out, Syracuse exorcises whatever demons possessed Malik Willis last year, and Tony White trusts his personnel more this year to let his guys do their thing, making plays against the playmaker. The Orange move to 3-1 in the non-conference, which may make hopes a little too high. W, (3-1), (0-0)

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

at Florida State Seminoles: Heading down to Doak Walker, as the Noles are starting to find themselves again isn’t a recipe for keeping your head on straight. It’s not a bloodbath, and the Orange sort of save face on the road to a degree, making you wonder how good the team can be. L, (3-2) (0-1)

Wake Forest Demon Deacons: The friendly confines of the Dome welcome the Orange back to a game, not quite as crazy as the 2019 iteration that we will forever be grateful to Trill Williams for, but solid nonetheless. Unfortunately the Demon Deacon experience (they return 20/22 starters), is too much for the Orange, losing another close one. L, (3-3) (0-2)

Clemson Tigers: Craziness ensues. It’s Friday night in the Dome. There’s a recent trend of those games against Clemson not going well for the Tigers. That said, this iteration of the Orange hangs with them for a bit, but succumbs in the second half to the ridiculous gap in depth to the team that should walk the ACC. L, (3-4) (0-3)

at Virginia Tech Hokies: This one feels weird. The Syracuse just hung with Clemson, but there’s something still a bit off with the offense. Tech probably isn’t great at this point in the year, but the Orange end up leaving Lane Stadium disappointed, the offense not being able to put points on the board, and the Hokies take one at home. L, (3-5) (0-4)

Boston College Eagles: The Syracuse defense holds the combination of Phil Jurkovec and Zay Flowers in check, but Tommy DeVito sputters out of the gate and this is locked in the perpetual Syracuse vs BC slogfest. Shrader gets the nod from the pen, with the Orange offense looking off kilter and saves a game from the clutches of a loss, as they can’t deal with his legs. W, (4-5) (1-4)

at Louisville Cardinals: Calls for Shrader to start amp up, but DeVito gets the start still, with a quick hook for Shrader in the second quarter. Neither quarterback can get the offense ticking and Malik Cunningham paces the Orange for way to many yards breaking contain while they have to honor his underappreciated arm as well. L, (4-6) (1-5)

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

at N.C. State Wolfpack: While some have NC State as the second best team in the Atlantic, we all know that N.C. State is still N.C. State and the game turns into an ugly affair, saved by the running of Sean Tucker. The Wolfpack answer both attempts at quarterback plans, but have no answer for the freshman (still?) cutting them up to keep bowl hopes alive. W, (5-6) (2-5)

Pittsburgh Panthers: Kenny Pickett is the Carl Krauser of Pitt football. I think he’s been there since time. That said, the Panther quarterback is respectable if not wow-inducing. The young secondary is fully experienced by this point though, with a year and a half under their belt, holding him in check while Tommy DeVito goes off for a career day in the air on the Panthers to secure the bowl berth for the Orange. W, (6-6) (3-5)


It’s a pipe-dream, but it’s possible. We’ve seen Syracuse do stranger things over the course of the past few years. A bowl berth removes Babers from the hot-seat, somehow the QB controversy is ended by the end of the year and the defense rounds into the true form we’re expecting from what we saw out of this White unit last season.