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Syracuse football schedule: Non-conference openings this decade

This is a special appearance, not getting the band back together... yet anyway

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 27 Pitt at Syracuse Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hi! I’m the (a?) guy that used to run this place. You may know me from hits such as “Which teams are available for SU to schedule in 2024?” and “Creating SU football’s ideal schedules through 2035.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m here to talk about Syracuse Orange football non-conference scheduling. For once, there’s limited urgency here aside from the two openings in 2024. But would also note that all of this could wind up being for naught given the conference realignment nonsense swirling around the sport.

So keep all of that in mind as I tour us through the rest of this decade schedule-wise (aside from 2022, since obviously that schedule’s set).

2023 (Done, miraculously)

  • Army
  • Western Michigan
  • at Purdue
  • Colgate

2024 (Two openings)

  • at Army
  • Ohio

The 2024 openings have been covered off on many times before in this space, and at this point, everyone’s accepted the fact that Syracuse is just going to walk right past that mandatory Power Five opponent thing since there aren’t many P5 opponents left to add. The other spot is an FCS opponent. We’ll get to those very briefly below, since they’re easier to schedule on short notice and SU might even have that team locked in already and it’s just unannounced yet.

Available FBS opponents for 2024 (plus what they’re likely looking for):

  • B1G: Michigan (Home G5), Rutgers (FCS, Home G5), Northwestern (FCS)
  • Big 12: TCU (FCS), Cincinnati (FCS), Houston (FCS)
  • SEC: Tennessee (FCS), Alabama (FCS), Auburn (FCS)
  • AAC: SMU (G5), Temple (FCS), FAU (FCS, G5 home), North Texas (Home), Rice (G5/FCS)
  • C-USA: Jacksonville State (three openings), FIU (FCS), MTSU (FCS),
  • MAC: Akron (G5, FCS), Kent State (FCS/G5 home), CMU (FCS)
  • MWC: Nevada (G5), Utah State (three openings)
  • SBC: Georgia State (road), James Madison (G5 home, road), Arkansas State (G5), Southern Miss (Home G5), ULL (FCS), ULM (home)
  • IND: Notre Dame (Home G5/FCS), UMass (G5), UConn (three openings)

That may look like a lot of teams, but look at how many have “FCS” next to them. Theoretically, no team really needs a P5 team right now – especially not one from Central New York. But based on what’s available, the most likely opponents above are…

Rutgers: Technically still owe them a game for the canceled 2020 game in New Jersey, and they only have one game set for 2024 right now (at Virginia Tech). While both sides would probably prefer to just never see each other again given how ugly these contests usually look and the risks in losing, the reason we haven’t heard yet could be because it’s just the Rutgers game.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 11 Rutgers at Syracuse Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UConn: SU likes low-effort, nearby and familiar opponents and UConn would qualify. Since the Orange already have a four-game set against the Huskies, this could either replace a later contest or just be tacked on as a buy game before that series begins.

UMass: Easy enough, though they’re certainly in demand as a bodybag game for all of the teams above. Syracuse might be able to get a better deal due to lower travel costs.

Utah State: Not an ideal geographic match for either side. But since the Aggies need opponents with BYU off the table for a bit (just five games set past 2023 right now), it could be worth a home-and-home for SU with the road date in 2024 and a home game in 2028.

Also possible: Jacksonville State, James Madison

On the FCS front, you’re probably looking at nearby schools that ‘Cuse doesn’t play in the immediate few seasons in either direction. So would eliminate Wagner, Colgate, New Hampshire and Albany right off the bat. It’s also less likely that an FCS team with an FBS game on the schedule already wants another one, so that informs the teams highlighted as well.

  • Big South: Robert Morris, Bryant
  • CAA: Delaware, Elon, Maine, Monmouth, Towson, Villanova
  • MEAC: Howard
  • NEC: CCSU, Sacred Heart, LIU, Merrimack
  • Patriot: Holy Cross

Take your pick here. We’ve faced a bunch of them lately.

2025 (Done!)

  • Army
  • at Notre Dame
  • UConn
  • Tennessee (Atlanta)

2026 (Done!)

  • at Army
  • at Notre Dame
  • New Hampshire
  • UConn

2027 (Two openings)

  • at UConn
  • at Penn State

With two road games already set for 2027, Syracuse needs two home games here. The Orange are almost certain that one will be an FCS opponent. The other will be a G5 team. Since it’s five years out, there are far more opportunities, though caveats here around the fact that a) it has to be a home game for Syracuse and b) this is probably going to be the front end of a home-and-home.

Anyway, here’s who SU has to choose from – looking only at G5 and independent teams that are available (by way of having openings that make sense for SU to slot into):

  • AAC: SMU, FAU, Rice, UAB, UTSA
  • C-USA: FIU, MTSU, Western Kentucky, Louisiana Tech
  • MAC: Akron, Buffalo, Kent State, Ohio, Eastern Michigan, Toledo, Western Michigan
  • MWC: Boise State, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah State
  • SBC: Georgia State, James Madison, Old Dominion, Arkansas State, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Texas State, ULL, ULM
  • IND: Army, UMass

Seeing both Utah State and UMass here and in the 2024 section above means there’s a good chance 2027 is the second game of a home-and-home. Also, since the Orange will be playing in Florida, Georgia and Virginia more often in the division-less ACC, there’s less of a distinct need to play G5 schools in those states like there was before.

In all likelihood, this is probably a MAC team SU will schedule a simple home-and-home with. Army’s probably unlikely since Syracuse would just be getting off a four-game series with the Black Knights.

Ball State v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

2028 (Three openings)

  • Penn State

With a P5 team booked at home, there’s a lot of flexibility left for how the rest of this schedule fills out. Most G5 teams that can make a game work here, so will just note that Syracuse probably gets one at home and one on the road in 2028, plus an FCS team. Ideally, you just flip-flop those opponents the following year to fill out 2029, which only needs two games (as you’ll see below).

2029 (Two openings)

  • Notre Dame
  • Morgan State

As mentioned, an ideal setup is just to do two home-and-homes in 2028 and then book the other side of them for 2029 if you can, to wrap up the decade. Ideally, you’re looking at MAC schools, but there are benefits to playing teams like MTSU, Western Kentucky, Temple and others outside of that league provided they’re available (likely this far out).


Hopefully this was fun (?) and informative. Will I be doing these often? Absolutely not. But since I still casually keep track of college football scheduling, figured it was worth sharing.