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.
- Monday: 4-8 (Christian)
- Tuesday: 5-7 (Kevin)
- Wednesday: 6-6 (Steve)
- Thursday: 7-5 (Dom)
- Friday: 8-4 (Mike)
- Saturday 9-3 (Special Guest)
A 5-7 or 6-6 season can be interpreted in many ways, but a 7-5 season feels like a (mostly) reasonable, obtainable benchmark expectation for the 2023 season. Notching an extra regular season win and a second-straight bowl game gives this program some sense of consistency, especially when you consider the nature of this year’s schedule.
In this outcome, Syracuse beats the teams it clearly needed to, stole a few wins from the intriguing “toss-up” games and at least didn’t get embarrassed against the best of the best in the ACC.
The way the Orange hit the 7-5 goal, however, is a fascinating discussion. Here’s my predictions:
Colgate Raiders - Win (1-0, 0-0)
Syracuse gets off to a comfortable start and never looks back, to the point that Coach Babers will have no choice but to rest the starters (hopefully) by the beginning-to-middle of the third quarter. More importantly, we get some temporarily vengeance versus Colgate after back-to-back men’s basketball duds.
Western Michigan Broncos- Win (2-0, 0-0)
Similarly, everything goes according to plan and the Orange can comfortably begin undefeated - at least through two games.
at Purdue Boilermakers- Win (3-0, 0-0)
This was a tough one to call. Part of me wanted to swap this as a loss in exchange for a win down the road versus Virginia Tech. But I looked at the numbers and Mike’s detailed preview of the matchup with the Boilermakers, and it’s hard not to root for Syracuse in this one. Yes, Syracuse needed a miraculous game-winning touchdown to eek out a win last year. At the same time, Syracuse is returning over 70% of its production on both sides of the field, while Purdue faces major roster turnover. Count on the Orange to make an early-season splash on NBC.
Army Knights- Win (4-0, 0-0)
Army’s defense will be a group the Orange can’t afford to underestimate, especially coming off a Big 10 road game, but the lack of firepower for Army’s offense should mean the Orange ride hot with a 4-0 start.
Clemson Tigers - Loss (4-1, 0-1)
But then... here comes the pain: three consecutive games versus the three best programs in the conference, starting off with Dabo Swinney and company. Clemson enters this season as the ninth-best team in the country per the first AP poll. The Orange have yet to beat Clemson since that 27-24 upset win back in 2017, despite numerous close calls (especially last year). Anticipate that the Tigers will hand Syracuse its first loss of the season.
at North Carolina Tar Heels- Loss (4-2, 0-2)
The gauntlet continues, this time on the road versus another AP top-25 program. Yes, North Carolina faces roster questions with new personnel on defense and some unknown receiving options for star quarterback Drake Maye. Then again, Syracuse will be coming off two pretty draining games versus Army and Clemson. Out of the Clemson/UNC/FSU trio, this is the game SU can most likely pull off an upset, but it’s likely a loss.
at Florida State Seminoles- Loss (4-3, 0-3)
Syracuse’s slate versus the top-three teams in the ACC ends with #8 Florida State. Jordan Travis, one of the best defenses in the country and a road game is a brutal trio. Double-digit loss inbound.
at Virginia Tech Hokies- Loss (4-4, 0-4)
A controversial pick here, unless you think Syracuse will lose to Purdue. In that case, this becomes the must-win game if the Orange plan to hit the seven-game marker. In this scenario, four losses in a row isn’t unrealistic especially in the injuries start to pile up. An 0-4 conference record up to this point is definitely an eyesore, right?
Boston College Eagles- Win (5-4, 2-3)
In a critical stretch, Syracuse would need to win three of its last four games. The good news: two of Syracuse’s final opponents, including the Eagles (13th overall), rank below the Orange in the ACC preseason poll. Babers moves to 9-4 all-time in “Friday Night Lights.”
Pittsburgh Panthers- Loss (5-5, 2-4)
Could Syracuse pull off a win? Possibly. Pitt has also had Syracuse’s number for a while now, and that won’t be changing this season.
at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - Win (6-5, 3-4)
Needing two-straight wins to secure the 7-5 benchmark, Syracuse sneaks by on the road against a lackluster Yellow Jackets squad, and all hope is not yet lost.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons- Win (7-5, 4-4)
The case for Syracuse: the Orange’s top playmakers have the higher ceiling than that of the Demon Deacons. In a JMA Wireless Dome finale with another gap in between home games, home-field advantage counts when it matters most.
Overall, this would be my realistic scenario for the Orange this season. I’d say given just the weirdness of this schedule, 7-5 is a solid step forward. In this scenario, Syracuse also can’t count on the crazy 6-0 start like it had in 2022, which means the end of the season will have some genuine stakes given the way the ACC slate of the schedule is set up for the Orange. My toughest call would be that if Syracuse were to go 7-5, it would make sense for Syracuse to need to be 4-0 - I don’t see the Orange winning four of its last five games if it weren’t. I’d call 7-5 and a bowl game a big success considering SU hasn’t reach back-to-back bowl games in a decade, and that means the Babers Era will secure at least a few more years.