Orange Watch: 2014 Syracuse football schedule has its ups and downs

Item: The recent release of the complete season schedule should equal a fast start, but a tough way to finish.

Unless there is some sort of change to the protocol of the ACC Football composite schedule for 2015 and forward, we certainly hope the conference does not make both the Pittsburgh and Boston College matchups the annual final two regular season games, alternating odds years in the Dome and even years away.

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Syracuse will try for three straight bowl seasons

After getting the nice draw of two games at home against its former Big East northeast rivals to finish out its first ACC season, Syracuse had road games due against both teams this year as Pittsburgh is SU’s permanent Coastal Division cross-over opponent.

» Related: Is ACC conference change coming for Syracuse football?

Last year, it was announced that B.C. would be the annual final game played Thanksgiving weekend, one year at Syracuse the next at Chestnut Hill, and that made sense in establishing a traditional season-ending, geographic rival.

It also fit into the ACC’s overall plan introduced this year with each team playing a geographic conference, or in-state rival to end the season (Clemson-South Carolina, Duke-Wake Forest, Florida State-Florida, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Louisville-Kentucky, North Carolina-N.C. State, Pittsburgh-Miami (stretch-but no other option), and Virginia-Virginia Tech).

But always ending every other season with two road games is not a great way to finish any particular season’s schedule especially if attaining bowl eligibility is on the line, and, in fact, this year with an open week preceding the final two games, the football team will make its last home appearance versus first-time Dome visitor Duke on Nov. 8.

SU hoops will have barely gotten underway.

On the other hand the first month of the season shapes up nicely for a good start, except for a too early open second week after hosting FCS member Villanova to begin play Aug. 31, although not playing is probably better than what could have been a potential early ACC game in the Friday Sept. 5 window which instead will be Pittsburgh at B.C.

So, begin with a FCS opponent, followed by a road game against MAC member Central Michigan (6-6 this past season including non-conference losses to Michigan, N.C. State and UNLV) before a Dome rematch from last season’s 20-3 ACC win over new Big Ten member Maryland, and hope to have a 3-0 record heading to MetLife Stadium a week later to face Notre Dame Sept. 27.

» Related: Syracuse football recruiting update: Latest on Steve Ishmael, Denzel Ward

A 3-0 start hasn’t happened since 1991, the first year of Big East football when the ‘Cuse beat SEC members Vanderbilt and Florida along with Maryland.

The two straight October ACC home games begins a pattern of two weeks at home, two weeks away right through the final eight games of the season, and it starts with a Friday night matchup against Louisville, a great night of spotlighted exposure for the program and the Dome, followed by a rare chance to see the active Heisman Trophy winner in action when Jameis Winston and defending national champion Florida State invade the building Oct. 11.

Now that the game order is set, with plenty of starters on both sides returning and a recruiting class that is shaping up as perhaps the best since the late 90s, just how many wins are realistically on the table in the quest to make it three straight bowl seasons?

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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