Mike: Now we’re back to the OOC schedule being frontloaded, and there is a severe jump in difficulty to begin ACC play. The Orange are thrown right into the fire by hosting Clemson, then traveling to North Carolina and Florida State. It could easily be a repeat of the season-killing stretch of Clemson, Notre Dame, and Pitt from 2022.
Christian: Opening the ACC slate at home versus Clemson and following that up with road games against UNC and FSU is absolutely brutal. It doesn’t look like any of those teams have regressed that much either, which makes this stretch a nightmare for a Syracuse team that lost some key pieces in the offseason.
Kevin: I’ll go different here and say it’s the stretch which sees the Orange on the road at Purdue followed by Army and Clemson. You have the first road game of the season followed by trying to prepare for a triple-option offense, then getting Clemson. Unlike the start of the ACC season, this is a stretch where Syracuse needs to likely go 2-1 to keep bowl hopes alive.
Mike: The obvious answer here is Clemson. Two straight years of falling just short against the Tigers means that there’s even more incentive to get it done in front of a sold-out Dome crowd. Starting off conference play with a statement win would go a long way to getting the fanbase engaged and raising ‘Cuse’s confidence through the roof.
Christian: Wake Forest will come to the Dome after a rough two-week stretch where the Demon Deacons play NC State and Notre Dame. We know how physical both of those teams are and it’s not going to be easy to come to Central New York after those two contests. Remember: the Orange took advantage of that with Wake Forest ending the season against Syracuse in 2019. A similar situation could happen this season.
Kevin: I’ll go with Pitt. The Orange gave up a home game against a team that they have struggled with recently. Looking at the schedule, Syracuse could be heading into this game with 5 wins so it could be the difference between having a chance to get to 8, or sitting home during bowl season.
Mike: Army’s ground-and-pound philosophy is not a great matchup for Syracuse, who struggled immensely to stop the run in the second half of last season. The game is sandwiched between the first road game of the year and Clemson, so there’s also the risk of a team that’s both sore from the previous week and looking ahead to the circled date on the calendar. Coach Long is the Godfather of the 3-3-5 but he may have to go with a different look to effectively counter the stacked Army line.
Christian: Given recent seasons, you wouldn’t expect Virginia Tech to give the Orange too many troubles. However, two factors start to swing this game towards the Hokies favor. First of all, a weeknight game at Lane Stadium will have a raucous crown on hand. I don’t remember the last time Syracuse played a Thursday night game. Second and most importantly, this game comes after the Orange bye week. I’ve detailed Syracuse’s struggles under Dino Babers after a bye week. After last season’s win against a Devin Leary-less NC State, his record is at 3-6. Going on the road in a cauldron of chaos won’t help matters.
Kevin: Georgia Tech is one game that most fans are probably going to overlook. Going from all the hoopla around playing in Yankee Stadium to a road game against a program that is looking to rebound means it’s a game that could present more trouble than expected.
What are you most/least excited about with this year’s football schedule?