clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why Syracuse football will finish 8-4 in 2023

It’s not drinking the Orange Kool-Aid when there’s a good shot of this actually happening.

NCAA Football: Albany at Syracuse Rich Barnes-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.

There’s legitimate optimism for a great Orange season. The schedule is as manageable as it’s been in a long time, significant resources are being invested in football facilities, and ‘Cuse was fairly successful in the transfer market and coaching searches. And since nobody wants to do that last part to an even bigger degree, here’s why SU won’t have to:

Colgate Raiders - Win (1-0, 0-0)

A nice FCS warmup to the season sees Dino actually play his reserves and ease Shrader back after his offseason surgery. Carlos Del Rio-Wilson and other second-stringers show some promising signs of the future, and Luke MacPhail even gets in for a series at the very end.

Western Michigan Broncos - Win (2-0, 0-0)

The Jason Beck offense doesn’t miss a beat, steamrolling a severely depleted Broncos secondary. Meanwhile, Rocky Long’s defense gets in rhythm and forces a pair of turnovers, taking all the momentum early. CDRW once makes another appearance in the second half, and a healthy and well-rested ‘Cuse team hits the road feeling good.

at Purdue Boilermakers - Win (3-0, 0-0).

Another week, another team that has no idea how to stop the Orange attack. Purdue Pete is no longer the most horrifying thing in West Lafayette as this time, it’s the rushing game that derails any attempts at containment. That opens up opportunities for Shrader to hit his targets, alleviating whatever injury concerns were left.

Army Knights - Win (4-0, 0-0)

It’s back to the air-raid and back to home field Dome-ination as the Orange jump out to another huge lead. The Black Knights play with nothing to lose and make the game a bit closer than it should be, but it’s not enough to stop SU sweep their out-of-conference opposition.

Notre Dame v Syracuse Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

Clemson Tigers - Loss (4-1, 0-1)

This game has almost everything - a raucous sold-out crowd, national attention, perhaps even College GameDay... but it’s ultimately missing the important thing: an Orange victory. The back-and-forth battle goes down to the wire, with Shrader needing to mount a long drive in under two minutes to win the game. He gets painstakingly close, all the way to inside the red zone, but a last-ditch, on-the-run pass to Oronde Gadsden is broken up by fingertips as time expires.

at North Carolina Tar Heels - Loss (4-2, 0-2)

An even-bigger shootout than the previous week is also in sight, as the UNC defense is on the verge of costing Drake Maye a game he had no business losing. This time, it’s up to the Orange to hold on the final drive, when a supposedly-vanquished enemy returns - stupid penalties. UNC gets into comfortable field goal range and walks it off, and we’re once again left wondering how close to higher aspirations the team was.

at Florida State Seminoles - Loss (4-3, 0-3)

This game is going to go bad, but by #BRAND standards, there needs to be some quarterback drama. Shrader looks like Superman at first and is somehow keeping SU in the game, until he goes too hard on a first-down dive - thankfully it’s his non-throwing arm he’s holding while coming off the field. It’s a very long and stressful bye week while the only updates we get are crickets.

at Virginia Tech Hokies - Win (5-3, 1-3)

Shrader is in uniform but Babers elects to let Del Rio-Wilson get the start under the lights at Lane Stadium. It isn’t the best performance, but all he has to do is game manage while the 3-3-5 prevents any kind of resistance by the hapless Hokies. The Orange get back in the win column and the sky is no longer falling straight towards the Dome roof.

Boston College Eagles - Win (6-3, 2-3)

Witness this fully armed and operational battle station decimate the Eagles. Shrader is back under center and makes up for lost time with three passing TDs and another pair on the ground, and LeQuint Allen has his own career game, carving up the Dome turf with close to 200 rushing yards and a touchdown catch. This is exactly why we buried the Orange-Eagle trophy years ago...

NCAA Football: Boston College at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Panthers - Loss (6-4, 2-4)

Someway, somehow, Pat Narduzzi will find a way to win another game against Syracuse that was equally ugly on both sides. The Yankee Stadium turf, soaked by freezing rains throughout the previous day, doesn’t hold up well again and is nearly responsible for what seems like a dozen close calls. Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On.

at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - Win (7-4, 3-4)

It’s been another dreadful season down in Atlanta, and the Yellow Jackets have all but died out by this point. The offense barely has to do anything as Justin Barron and the rest of the secondary have three takeaways.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons - Win (8-4, 4-4)

Both of these teams are playing for a better 13th game and because of that, it remains close throughout. The Orange defense ultimately bends but doesn’t break, and this time, the Shrader-Gadsden connection comes through one last time to both take a late lead and get O.G. to 1,000 receiving yards. Wake looks for a miracle last-minute drive, but instead Caleb Okechukwu and Marlowe Wax combine for a strip-six, sending the Dome into one final frenzy and giving a ton of upperclassmen their proper sendoff.

I’ve been mentally debating between 7-5 and 8-4 predictions, but now that it’s written out, this is almost exactly how I see things playing out this season. You could easily flip a couple results (Purdue, VT, Pitt and WF) but provided ‘Cuse doesn’t have to dig ridiculously deep down their depth chart, it should be a fun year that isn’t nearly as frontloaded as 2022.

However, there’s one group that even I can’t be more optimistic than... stay tuned.