We’ve reached the final home game of our Syracuse Orange football previews. After traveling to the Steel City of Pittsburgh, SU faces another ACC foe who will remain an annual affair thanks to the new schedule model. For the first time since the bye, their opponent won’t be a team that entered the season ranked.
School: Florida State University
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History vs. Syracuse: The Seminoles are 12-2 against the Orange and have never lost to them at home. The two SU wins came in 1966, the schools’ first meeting, and 2018, their last matchup in the Dome. The ‘Noles rode a ten-game winning streak between those two contests and were ranked in nine of them. Syracuse has played FSU every season since it joined the ACC, with the exception of 2020 due to COVID rescheduling.
Coach: Mike Norvell, third season. Norvell was a wide receiver at Central Arkansas and subsequently became a grad assistant. He would then work in several different offensive coaching positions with Tulsa, Pitt, and Arizona State. He was promoted to associate head coach halfway through his ASU tenure, and in 2016, he started his first head coaching gig at Memphis. After four seasons there, FSU signed Norvell to a six-year contract. His 38-15 record with the Tigers has not translated well with the Seminoles: they’re only 8-13 since he took over.
2021 Record: (5-7) (4-4)
Recapping Last Season:
Things started off rough for the ‘Noles. In the opening week against Notre Dame, an 18-point 4th quarter rally wasn’t enough as they lost 41-38 in OT. The next week, FSU lost in truly humiliating fashion to Jacksonville State. A win percentage of 98.6% evaporated on a 59-yard Hail Mary that sealed the program’s first ever loss to an FCS team. They’d drop to 0-4 before a last second victory over Syracuse finally got them in the win column. FSU followed that with two more wins, but then Clemson and NC State proved to be too much to handle. Needing to win out to be bowl eligible, the Seminoles came back to beat both Miami and Boston College and set up a win-and-in against Florida. The Gators held on to win 24-21 and keep their in-state rivals out of a 13th game.
The Seminoles were pretty middle-of-the-pack on both sides of the ball last year. McKenzie Milton played himself out of the starting QB spot, leading to Jordan Travis taking over in Week 5. He was much more effective than his elder counterpart, running a balanced run/pass game with 15 scores through the air, seven more on the ground, and six interceptions. Lead back Jashaun Corbin rushed for 887 yards and seven TDs of his own. There was no true No. 1 WR, but Ontaria Wilson was the favorite red-zone target with 5 TD catches.
There were some bona fide stars on the defense. DE Jermaine Johnson had 12 sacks, the sixth most in the FBS, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. LB Keir Thomas added 6.5 sacks to the mix, and DB Jammie Robinson had four picks and two forced fumbles after transferring in from South Carolina. Ryan Fitzgerald was 10/13 with his limited FG opportunities.
2022 Season Outlook:
FSU has their ACC slate slapped right in the middle of their four non-conference matchups. The Seminoles will welcome Duquesne in Week 0 and travel to play LSU in the Superdome to start the year, and Louisiana and Florida will visit to close it out. Their conference schedule has them hosting Boston College, Wake Forest, Clemson, and Georgia Tech, while also going on the road against Louisville, NC State, Miami, and Syracuse.
Travis will have another chance to lead the offense behind a retooled line. With Corbin gone, Treshaun Ward and Oregon transfer Trey Benson are atop the RB depth chart with last year’s depth piece Lawrance Toafili looking to work his way back up after a late season injury. The starting WR spots are still an open competition and it’s likely that the passing volume will again be divided pretty evenly among Wilson and others.
Johnson was snatched up by the Jets in the 1st round, and Thomas signed on with the Rams, leaving two gaping holes in the pass rush. UCF transfer Tatum Bethune should help to patch one of them after leading that unit in total tackles last season. Robinson returns at safety to guide a well-maintained secondary. His one major flaw is targeting issues; he’s been ejected from a game two years in a row for blatant helmet-to-helmet hits.
Syracuse Game Date: Saturday, November 12
Location: JMA Wireless Dome, Syracuse, New York
Odds of Orange Victory: 55%
Very Early Outlook vs. Syracuse:
The Seminoles are a tough team to grasp. On one hand, you can argue that their record last season wasn’t really reflective of the talent on the roster. On the other, FSU lost some key performers in the offseason and has had little success under Norvell so far. The options to replace their losses look acceptable, and the ‘Noles will he high on emotions one way or the other coming off their annual rivalry game with Miami. Call this blind optimism if you’d like, but I think Sean Tucker has a game-changing performance in what’s likely his final Dome game to carry the Orange to a close win and send ‘Cuse fans home #Pl34sed.