2024 is no doubt an exciting year for Syracuse Orange football and new head coach Fran Brown. With 31 new players and counting, the upcoming season should be a very different experience for SU fans.
There’s just one problem... the schedule isn’t finished.
Due to Army joining the AAC and discarding the bulk of their matchups, the Orange have a non-conference opening with little time and few options to fill it. But there is one path that may be overlooked - and it goes through South Bend.
Syracuse is currently set to travel to Notre Dame in 2025 as part of the independent program’s deal with the ACC. The Fighting Irish have one free game of their own to fill, but that will almost certainly be against an FCS team.
Instead, what SU would need to do is convince the Irish to swap them in for one of the other ACC opponents. That would both solve the issue of finding a final opponent for 2024 and make the following schedule - which also features road trips to Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, and SMU, and a neutral site game against Tennessee - more manageable. Plus, the Orange would have a much better shot at an upset with Kyle McCord, Oronde Gadsden, Marlowe Wax, Fadil Diggs, and more vets on the roster.
Notre Dame has home games planned against Louisville, Florida State, Stanford, and Virginia, and each scenario has some positives but also some challenges to make it work - the constant being that it will come down to Irish Athletics’ leadership.
To me, Stanford makes a lot of sense under the right circumstance. My idea hinges on Army choosing UNLV as their final game to cancel, which would open up a much easier road trip for the Cardinal to make. Stanford had this game scheduled before they joined the ACC but will have to be looped into the conference’s series anyway, along with Cal and SMU. Coming off a 3-9 season, they probably wouldn’t need much convincing for an easier situation.
Louisville’s on the other end of a home-and-home after hosting the Irish in 2023, and the ACC runner-ups could view this as their chance for a statement. Notre Dame likewise probably views them as a good resume builder. The Cardinals also have their non-conference slates filled until 2028 so it would not be easy to reschedule this.
Florida State is a hard no. Again, they’re likely worth more as an opponent now coming off a 13-win season than a year after the fact, and the ‘Noles have their fill of juggernauts coming up: a home-and-home with Alabama starts in 2025, Clemson is a yearly matchup, and they host the Irish in 2026. From Notre Dame’s perspective, it makes no sense to drop their biggest game with the uncertainty of the new playoff format.
UVA is the strangest condition. They’ve got another trip to South Bend in ‘26 so that’d probably also have to be moved back - which it may be anyway thanks to the three new teams - but otherwise they have the space to do it. Like with Stanford, they’re coming off a losing season, so SU on paper would be a bigger matchup.
What are your thoughts on this idea? Would you like to see Coach Fran’s Orange have a real challenge in year one? Or would you prefer an alternative?
(Editor’s note: I tossed this idea out and Mike was willing to run with it. If you have anyone to toss insults at, it would be me.....but seriously, I think it’s an option Syracuse should explore because 2024 would still be manageable and 2025 would look a lot less threatening.)