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Syracuse vs. Ohio: Orange football’s history with MAC openers

We’ve played a few of these.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Western Michigan Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange open the 2021 season vs. the Ohio Bobcats. And while we don’t have a ton of history vs. Ohio (the only two games in this series took place around World War I), we have had at least a few games vs. MAC teams to start seasons.

All-time, the Orange(men) are 5-2 vs. MAC teams to start a season, but they’ve won five in a row there and haven’t lost since a 22-7 defeat vs. Bowling Green in 1976. A full rundown of those seven games thus far:

  • 2018: Syracuse 55, Western Michigan 42*
  • 2010: Syracuse 29, Akron 3*
  • 2000: Syracuse 63, Buffalo 7
  • 1999: Syracuse 35, Toledo 12 (A)
  • 1993: Syracuse 35, Ball State 12
  • 1976: Bowling Green 22, Syracuse 7
  • 1973: Bowling Green 41, Syracuse 17

*road game

Interestingly, now three straight MAC openers have been on the road including this Ohio game. And while none of the wins above have been particularly close, the last one at WMU wasn’t exactly the easiest one. As you probably recall, Syracuse was cruising vs. the Broncos before pulling Eric Dungey and then needing to re-insert him into the game to stop the bleeding in a rough third quarter.

The last two seasons to open vs. MAC teams ended in bowl trips (the Pinstripe in 2010 and the Camping World in 2018), and the last five instances have all resulted in winning records — though also just three bowl games in that stretch.

Syracuse has actually looked alright in openers overall of late, too. But admittedly past results don’t indicate much about future returns. Going into last season, SU had won six straight before the defeat at North Carolina. Now they’ll try to get back on the right side of things.

Meanwhile, Ohio was 10-6 in season openers under Frank Solich, though Syracuse is potentially the toughest (?) kickoff foe since Louisville in 2013. Solich isn’t on the sidelines anymore, however, so Tim Albin will be establishing a new trend either way.

Win or lose on Saturday, the Orange will also be putting their recent success in MAC openers to the test vs. Ohio again in 2024.