Which game are you most looking forward to and why?
Mike: Virginia Tech. I really dislike having another October without a home game, but I will admit the loudest the Dome got last year was during the BC game following a month-long absence. After the trashing SU got at Lane Stadium, it’s time for some payback in a packed Loud House - maybe clinching a third straight bowl in the process?
Kevin: Ohio. I have no idea what the Fran Brown era will look like on the field, and I’m not just talking about the strategy. What will the Syracuse entrance look like? What kind of videos/music are we getting in the Dome? Will Brown be animated on the sidelines or is he going to have that same calm demeanor we’ve seen since he was introduced? It’s going to be interesting how the new, smaller Dome crowd responds.
Christian: Georgia Tech. Kevin is right, the Ohio game will be exciting to kickstart a new era for the Orange. But each of the last two Syracuse seasons have gained momentum and hope after a win over a Power Five team. The last two years, that has been Purdue. This year, Syracuse looks to avenge the loss that ended the Dino Babers era when a surging Yellow Jackets squad comes to the Dome. A tune up against Ohio is one thing. A statement of intent against an upstart conference foe is another.
Dom: Of course the season finale in the Dome against Miami had to be scheduled during Thanksgiving Break (sigh...), but I’ll agree with Mike and take the Hokies here. It’s the Orange’s only second-half home game with classes in session, and keep in mind that we go another October without football in the Dome. Surrounding the VT game are road matchups versus Pitt, BC and Cal... this just feels like a “must-win” during a tough stretch.
Which three game stretch will be the toughest for the Orange?
Mike: UNLV, NC State, and Pitt. Regardless of opponents, three straight road games is a grind - and these three aren’t exactly cupcakes. UNLV is no pushover and lit up the Mountain West before their defense ran into trouble late last season. NC State is probably the toughest single opponent on the schedule, and while Pitt had an abysmal 2023, they always have SU’s number at
Kevin: California, UConn and Miami. It’s late in the season and I still have some concerns about depth in spots, so going out West, then returning home without a week off is a challenge. Playing UConn doesn’t look challenging, but then to finish playing Miami when the students are on break means you lose some home field advantage. Hopefully we’ll see a healthier squad next November.
Christian: UNLV, NC State and Pitt. Much like last season, there seems to be a clear stretch of tough games for the Orange. Also much like last year, that October stretch could define if Syracuse is in the drivers seat of its own destiny or if it needs to make changes to alter its path. While not as hard as last season, the games aren’t necessarily easy past October, save for UConn. This stretch kicks off the part of the schedule that could define Syracuse’s year.
Dom: Even with a bye in the middle, two straight road games against NC State and Pitt is brutal no matter how you slice it - and then there’s the first of two different road trips out west beginning with UNLV. The upcoming schedule for next season doesn’t include the usual juggernauts (namely Florida State, Notre Dame and Clemson), but we saw how a tough October stretch last season away from the 315 put Syracuse in a tough hole it couldn’t really dig out of the rest of the way. Is it realistic to say there’s a chance that trend could repeat again?
What’s the best road trip for Syracuse fans?
Mike: Not the easiest trip to make, but Vegas. It’s a city SU has never played in and not only will the game be hosted in one of the nicest stadiums in the country, but there is even a ‘Cuse connection thanks to the Davis family. Oh and also... it’s Vegas. Even if you’re not particularly into live shows, this is the city to watch one in anyway.
Kevin: I’ll say California. Heading west in November should bring good football weather. It’s a place the Orange haven’t played since 1968 and fans can plan a side trip to San Francisco to visit Alcatraz.
Christian: If you’re going by yourself, California. The southern part of the state is really nice during that time of year. If you’re going with a group, it’s hard to beat Vegas, no matter what age.
Dom: If you’re going simply for a game with #SickosCommittee potential, that Thursday night game versus Pitt is sounding the alarm. Personally, Berkeley is one of the prettiest college campuses I’ve had the chance to visit and there’s obviously the amazing opportunity to be at the Orange’s first road All-Coast Conference game.
Which game(s) do you wish were in a different spot on the schedule?
Mike: Cal. Having the longest road trip that late in the season seems like it could disrupt whatever momentum Fran’s guys have going. It’s going to feel like a non-conference game and I won’t be surprised if SU looks off, even if they’ve been playing well all season. My second choice has the same reasoning as Kevin’s.
Kevin: UConn. Playing an OOC game that late in the season is a recipe for apathy, and a trap. The Orange follow up the trip to Cal by coming home to face the Huskies while the Miami Hurricanes loom the following week. I’d much rather be playing UConn in week 3 and getting the 2nd bye before facing the Canes.
Christian: Georgia Tech. Am I excited to see what this game entails? Yes. But I would’ve still preferred another tune up game or two before Fran Brown and his new Orange squad were tested in ACC play. For a young squad and a young coaching staff still building chemistry, a conference game against a team that is building positive momentum is dangerous.
Dom: Miami in the last home game during Thanksgiving break feels like a bit of a downer for most under the Syracuse umbrella, but I likewise agree with Christian — Georgia Tech in week two is a bit of a scare for how early it is in the season. I wish there was a realistic universe to swap GT to where the Holy Cross game is.
What’s your way too early 2024 prediction?
Mike: Syracuse can legitimately win 10 games... but I think the last one will wait until Bowl season. SU sweeps their Dome slate but falls at NC State, Pitt, and Cal.
Kevin: I’m going to say the Orange go 8-4 with the losses coming at NC State, at Cal, and home to Virginia Tech and Miami.
Christian: This is another season where I just don’t know. This Syracuse team could win double digit games... or just barely make it to a bowl. The floor is six wins, so I’ll split the difference for now and say eight wins with losses to Georgia Tech, Pitt, Cal and Miami.
Dom: I’m going to pencil in seven wins for now (road losses to NC State, Pitt and Cal; home losses to Virginia Tech and Miami). I’ll make it eight wins for the Orange should The U crash and burn in year three of Cristobal’s tenure.
Now it’s your turn to let us know your predictions in the comments.