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Why Syracuse football will finish 7-5 in 2022

What’s that I smell? Is it hope?

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Ed. Note — As has become tradition, TNIAAM writers will tell you all week why and how this year’s Syracuse Orange football team will finish with certain W-L records. These projections will be more pleasing as we go along and we will all give our actual predictions for the season next week.

For once, I get to be on the optimistic end of the Orange preview spectrum. Is this because I’ve suddenly abandoned my data based approach to analyzing college football? Nope! There’s a very strained path for which the Orange can get to 7 wins with their schedule, and here’s how that likely happens...

Louisville Cardinals- Win (1-0, 1-0)

The Cardinals are returning to the Dome with Malik Cunningham under center, who may be Lamar Jackson lite. However, Tony White proved last season versus Malik Willis that his scheme can cause pressure and limit a mobile QB’s effectiveness if the Dome is rocking. I have faith enough people pass on the Dropkick Murphys to show up and watch Sean Tucker open the season with 140+ yards on the ground.

at UConn Huskies- Win (2-0, 1-0)

Listen: the Orange better win this one because I’m choosing to celebrate my 30th birthday drunk at PAWSARF screaming about how much better Sean Tucker is than Dan Orlovsky.

Purdue Boilermakers- Loss (2-1, 1-0)

After there’s some film on the “new” Orange offense, I can see a team like Purdue causing issues: Their defense is a preseason top 20 unit via SP+, and their offense turned a corner in the back half of 2021. They’ll hold Tucker relatively in check, and force the Orange to win through the air, which I don’t think happens the first time the unit is asked to do so.

Virginia Cavaliers- Win (3-1, 2-0)

#REVENGEGAME narratives aside, the Orange and Cavs are literally next to each other in SP+ preseason rankings, and tie goes to the home team. This is especially true when the Cavs defense is not expected to be a very good unit, and the ‘Cuse offensive coordinators are looking to make a point about why they came up north. This may turn into a surprising shoot-out, but one the Orange win.

Robert Anae Kendall Long Rich Barnes

Wagner Seahawks - Win (4-1, 2-0)

Unless Bobby Wagner is suiting up on the other side, the Orange win an easy one headed into the ByeU week.

Bye U- No Contest

Bino Dabers is preparing his EMP so we never hear or see anything from this contest.

NC State Wolfpack - Loss (4-2, 2-1)

I don’t think this loss will be as frustrating as the 2019 version of the game, mostly because NC State should be one of the better ACC teams this year. Hell, SP+ has them as a top 20 team headed into the season with a very reasonable shot at 9 wins. This is a game that at 4-1, people will project their desires for a dominant Orange team onto, but the reality is that the ‘Pack should be in a tier above “decent ACC team,” and if that holds true, this game begins the roughest single stretch of a schedule I’ve seen in modern Syracuse history.

at Clemson Tigers - Loss (4-3, 2-2)

Look: I’m going to write words about how Clemson is extremely good this year, and while maybe not Georgia or Alabama good, probably a viable 4th playoff team should they show their dominance over the ACC this season. The issue is that every year I write these words, and more times than not, the Orange play the Tigers and give them hell for 45 minutes. It doesn’t make sense, but they’d need a full 60 to beat this Clemson team on the road.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Loss (4-4, 2-2)

Based on the prices I’m seeing/hearing for this game, the crowd is definitely going to have plenty of green and gold in attendance, which doesn’t help matters for the Orange. The Irish aren’t of the caliber of the teams contending for a title, but they’re in the group just below them with last week’s foe, and that’s a hard ask for ‘Cuse.

at Pittsburgh Panthers - Loss (4-5, 2-3)

It’s going to take a really special Syracuse team to win at Pitt. I’m not sure who pissed off Primantis, or stepped on a Terrible Towel, but the Orange haven’t won a game in Heinz Field Acrisure Stadium and they won’t start this year against a Pitt team that should legitimately challenge for the Coastal Division Crown.

Florida State Seminoles - Win (5-5, 3-3)

It’s weird to think that the Seminoles provide the opportunity for the Orange to right their ship, but in sometimes things needs to go ‘Cuse’s way for a change. Instead of losing in OT, the 2022 version of Syracuse is able to eek out a big win against a solid ACC team also vying for a bowl position. Here, we see Garrett Shrader have his One Big Game where he looks like the dual threat QB he was always meant to be.

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

at Wake Forest Demon Deacons - Win (6-5, 4-3)

In what always feels like a litmus test for the Orange, the Deacs are dealing with uncertainty at quarterback, and ‘Cuse fans know all too well how that can tank a season before it even begins. In the range of outcomes that leads to the Orange getting 7 wins, Hartman doesn’t return, and the Orange are able to dispatch Wake in a close, low event game on the road.

at Boston College Eagles - Win (7-5, 5-3)

In the most Syracuse-y of endings, the Orange rip off their 3rd straight win to wrap the season of runs with an impressive outdoor performance from Sean Tucker, who sets the school’s single season rushing record, endearing himself to Oranges of all ages. While BC’s defense was solid last year, the offense was putrid and even with returning production, I’m not sure it’s enough to come out of the ACC basement.

If this season plays out like this, which bowl game would you like to see the Orange land in?