The day you’ve probably been waiting for is finally here. The Syracuse Orange football team kicks off the 2021 season against the Ohio Bobcats on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET, and ‘Cuse fans everywhere are hoping for improvement over 2020’s debacle of a season.
How does the TNIAAM staff really feel this will all shake out? Check out our predictions below.
A few weeks ago I said the Orange would finish 3-9 and meant every word: the schedule is grueling and there are far too many coin flip games with bad matchups. However, with the new look depth chart and a chance at a revamped offense, I have slightly more faith in Dino Babers, and think ‘Cuse finishes with a record that could have been a lot better, as they drop 3 games by a single score.
My “Why Syracuse will finish...” piece wasn’t really all that different from my actual prediction this year. The Orange seem poised to better on both sides of the ball, and last year’s defensive injuries should yield an experienced group of playmakers on that side of the ball. But the schedule’s pretty tough, and a bowl trip basically requires going 3-1 against a non-conference slate that’s not exactly full of pushovers. At 5-7 with some close losses, there’s enough improvement to keep Dino Babers and this staff around. But this season will be far from straightfoward overall.
This prediction should change to something better as the season goes on. However, given how the team looked last year coupled with the limited media availability this offseason, I’m not convinced that the team has made enough of an improvement to get a couple more wins. This comes down to two groups: the offensive line and the offensive play-calling. First, the offensive line needs to show that they’ve improved under Mike Schmidt’s new system and that the blocking is aggressive to support the run while keeping the quarterback healthy. Secondly, Sterlin Gilbert has to show that his playbook is more complex and that his quarterbacks have more options to throw to, whether it’s different receivers or different routes. If those two things appear in Syracuse’s first few games, then I’m more confident that the Orange can get close to a .500 record. Right now, there’s too many question marks that leave me concerned.
I’ve gone back and forth on this a bunch of times the last few weeks and I’m landing on the total cop-out of 6-6. I really think Syracuse is going to lean on the running game on offense and as a result they will start the year 3-0 before losing to Liberty after Malik Willis puts on a show. The Orange are able to grab 3 ACC wins when they beat Wake and Virginia Tech then rally on the final weekend to nip Pitt on a long Andre Szmyt field goal. Fans who don’t like Babers will think the 3-1 start should have led to a better result but the Orange are in almost every game and show enough progress to avoid a new HC search for another winter.
This is a bit of a cop out, but I think I’m going with 5-7 as that’s what I think the actual over-under should be on wins. I think this team will be capable of winning more, and bowling, and I think Vegas is underestimating them at only three wins. Being able to lean on an experienced stable of running backs as well as hopeful improvement to the line will allow the defense a little room to breathe in these coin flip games, letting them still make a difference in the late game with their legs under them. Overall, with a veteran roster, I’m predicting the signs of life that we all want to see from this program.
So how about you? Where do you see the Orange finishing this year?
How does Syracuse football finish the 2021 season?
This poll is closed
15-0; NATIONAL CHAMPS, BABY! (duh)
Respectable 5 wins
Less-than-respectable 5 wins