Item: The ACC did a nice job in assigning Syracuse its conference games this season with the official release Tuesday of the 2017 football schedule, in and around the non-conference portion of the Orange schedule which the athletic department finalized back in December.
Opening up with three straight, seemingly winnable home games against a FCS opponent and teams from Conference USA and Mid-American is the right opening scheduling formula for SU football, balanced off by the heavyweight road tussle that follows Sept. 23 at LSU. That game for the Bengal Tigers is sandwiched in-between a SEC matchup at Mississippi State, and another non-league home game against Troy.
From an Orange Nation perspective, out of the gate with three September dates in consecutive weeks against lesser competition, and depending on game times and weather conditions outside to do other activities, sometimes makes it hard for central New Yorkers and those traveling into town to plan dates, but it’s the best path to getting halfway to bowl eligibility.
The ACC balanced out dates in October and November with SU home twice each month (after the ‘Cuse had only one home game in Oct. this past season), highlighted by the Dome appearance of defending national champion Clemson for a spotlight-shining, Friday night game for all to see on ESPN.
The matchup with Clemson, by-the-way, occurs on Friday the 13th of October, and as game number seven is just beyond the proclamation by Dino Babers on the day he was introduced, Dec.7, 2015, that his fast-paced offense would begin to hit its stride “somewhere (in the second year) between games four and six.”
“Eleven bowl teams. The defending national champions. There’s no doubt it’s a challenging schedule,” Babers said in the school’s release. “But we’re going to embrace it. We don’t shy away from those things here. We have seven games in the Carrier Dome in front of our fans. That’s great for this community. That’s exciting. And I think it’s exciting for our players also.”
Other schedule notes:
We like that the ACC returned Boston College as the season finale after a one year switch to Pittsburgh. It should be the Orange and Eagles closing out each season as Atlantic Division rivals, and it’s a way to annually fast track some northeast ACC-flavored football tradition over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The last time Syracuse played at Miami was in November 2003. Paul Pasqualoni was in his second-to-last season running the Orangemen, and Larry Coker was the UM coach sporting a nifty 31-3 record nearing the end of his third season.
The ’03 game was played in front of 48,130 at the since-demolished Orange Bowl adjacent to the Little Havana neighborhood, now the site of the MLB Miami Marlins home park, and the No. 14 ranked Hurricanes rallied to score 10 points in the fourth quarter to win 17-10.
This year Orange fans will get an up close look at the recently renovated Hard Rock Stadium in suburban Miami Gardens, home of the NFL Dolphins, with a newly installed roof that shields the majority of spectators (92%) from hot sun and rain during events.
2017 Syracuse Football Schedule (home games in bold – times to be announced)
Sept. 2 CENTRAL CONNECTICUT
Sept. 9 MIDDLE TENNESSEE
Sept. 16 CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Sept. 23 at LSU
Sept. 30 at North Carolina State
Oct. 7 PITTSBURGH
Oct. 13 CLEMSON (Friday)
Oct. 21 at Miami
Oct. 28 (No Game)
Nov. 4 at Florida State
Nov.11 WAKE FOREST
Nov. 18 at Louisville
Nov. 25 BOSTON COLLEGE