Coming off a 3-9 season, Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer and company need to make sure they don’t stall momentum from the last half decade with a second consecutive losing season. The goal this year will be for the Orange to finish the season 6-6 and make a bowl game. But how likely is that?
To figure out the realistic range of wins, I separated the 2015 schedule into five separate categories: (1) Will win; (2) Should win; (3) Coin clip; (4) Should lose; and (5) Will lose. Here’s what I came up with:
- 1st Tier (Will Win): Rhode Island.
- 2nd Tier (Should Win): Central Michigan. USF.
- 3rd Tier (Coin Flip): Boston College. Pittsburgh. Virginia. Wake Forest.
- 4th Tier (Should Lose): Louisville. NC State.
- 5th Tier (Will Lose): LSU. Florida State. Clemson.
The most difficult tiers to categorize came from the third and fourth tier. At certain points, I considered putting Pitt and BC in the ‘should lose’ category based on Syracuse’s big step back last season, along with steps forward from Pitt and BC. But Syracuse plays both of those games at home this season, and both are rivalry games, so optimistically, I put those games in the third tier.
You could also make an argument that Wake Forest belongs in the second tier, and NC State belongs in the third tier, but I think given that SU is coming off a 3-9 season, both teams are in the right category.
I’m pretty confident of the results of six games. Syracuse may hang tight against the fifth tier teams, but there’s no way they pull off an upset against the cream of the ACC and an elite SEC team. In the same vein, despite last season’s scare against Villanova, the Orange is going to defeat I-AA Rhode Island. One of SU’s three wins came against Central Michigan last year in blowout fashion, and USF may be one of the few teams on SU’s schedule that is in more disarray than the Orange.
So, that leaves six games on the schedule in the third and fourth tier categories. SU will need to win half of those games in order to make a bowl game. If you’re an optimist, you’ll take three games from the second tier and one game from the fourth tier for a 7-5 season. I think it’s unlikely but there’s always a chance of that
A pessimist will mark the fourth tier as losses, and perhaps split the third tier, which would make for a 5-7 season. I probably fall into the 6-6 camp. I think Syracuse wins games against Wake Forest and Virginia, and then splits the BC and Pitt games, while losing both games in the fourth tier. That makes for a bowl eligible (and job saving season for Shafer) and it’s off to a bowl game.