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Syracuse football chases out-of-conference sweep for first time in program history

In over three decades, the Orange have never quite reached that achievement.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Syracuse at Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On what will already be a historic day for the program, Syracuse Orange football can make Saturday afternoon even more memorable.

In 32 seasons as an affiliated school, SU has never been perfect playing against opponents outside of their conference. That can change with a win over Army, the final non-conference opponent on the 2023 calendar.

The Orange have already beaten Colgate, Western Michigan, and Purdue to secure a winning OOC record - something they’ve now done five times in the last six seasons and 18 times overall. Yet a perfect slate on the shuffled portion of the calendar has always been slightly out of reach.

Just last year, ‘Cuse was in the same position they are now. They took care of UConn, Purdue, and Wagner but still had to face always dangerous Notre Dame. It was close at halftime, but between a quarterback shuffle and a strong Irish counter-offensive, the home squad fell short.

QBs Garrett Shrader and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson both played half of last season’s 41-24 loss to Notre Dame.
Photos by Isaiah Vazquez and Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

There were several other close calls. In the 2018 season, Notre Dame was once again the culprit, blowing out an Eric Dungey-less Orange squad at Yankee Stadium. In the last game of the 2010 regular season, Boston College, who made the move to the ACC a little earlier than 'Cuse, came into the Dome on a hot streak and shut down Ryan Nassib and Co.

Although SU has never gone undefeated in out of conference games, they were unbeaten once: 1993. The #6 Orange went down to Austin for the second leg of a home-and-home series with Texas. The Longhorns didn't quite avenge their defeat at the Dome the year prior, but they did play the Orange to a 21-21 tie.

It’s perhaps fitting that this trend may end on the same day that Ben Schwartzwalder is inducted into the Ring of Honor inside the Dome. He coached some of the greatest Syracuse players of all time and helped guide the Orange to the 1959 National Championship - but his teams were all successful in the days of Independent football. This week’s opponent is one of only four remaining on the FBS level.

In the modern college football landscape, filling in the four open schedule slots with winnable games is so important for teams such as SU. The goal now for them is clear: earn a 13th game, regardless of how prestigious it ends up being. It’s the best way to measure relative success and keep future recruits interested in joining the program.

We are concerned about some matchups down the line, namely the remaining Notre Dame games and Penn State in 2027 & 2028. But for the most part, ‘Cuse has done the right thing with scheduling and put football in a position where it doesn’t have to be in the top tier of ACC outfits to stay competitive.

With half of the required bowl wins already secured, and a very weak conference slate ahead of them, a 4-0 Syracuse start can signal it will truly be a year to remember.