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Syracuse football boasts high returning production, improved SP+ ranking

Most of last year’s team is back for the 2022 season

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange were a decent team on the gridiron last year that fell just short of a bowl appearance. The good news is that much of that bunch will return for another go in 2022 - the 9th most in the nation in fact.

17 of last season’s 22 starters will return to the Orange in the fall. While it’s not the most consistent ACC roster across the board, both sides of the ball have their share of impact players.

On the offense, Sean Tucker will look to tear up the Dome turf once again following a record-shattering 2021 season. Garrett Shrader will be back under center and while he also helped extensively with his legs last year, new Offensive Coordinator Robert Anae will look to get him more involved in the passing game. Only one offensive player, lineman Airon Servais, graduated from the program.

Meanwhile, Duce Chestnut and Garrett Williams could be one of the best Cornerback duos in all of D1 football this fall. The secondary isn’t a cause of concern here, but the front seven could be. That’s where the other four departing SU starters played, but at least Mikel Jones decided to return and provide some veteran leadership to a group that is otherwise very raw.

All of that puts Syracuse roughly in the middle of the pack in ESPN’s predictions for next season:

SP+ is a metric that takes into account recent trends and strength of schedule. It’s not exactly a “poll” ranking, but instead focuses on how effective teams were in certain situations and evaluates how the current roster can replicate, or improve upon, past results. Here’s the full explanation.

SU’s offense is rated 70th in SP+ out of the 131 D1 football programs, while their defense is 45th. Those numbers are also a vast improvement over last season’s preseason numbers, which saw the Orange all the way down at number 107 overall.

This prediction gives the Orange a little breathing room to secure one of the 82 possible bowl slots. Considering that the Cuse will face off against five of last year’s AP Top-25 teams, it’s encouraging that the analytics can see them getting to six wins. Only two matchups, UConn and Wagner, seem like locks at the moment.

After seeing these rankings, what are your predictions for Syracuse football in 2022?