Orange Watch: 2018 Syracuse schedule tilts early with ACC heavyweights

Dino Babers
Dino Babers speaks to a referee during the first half of Syracuse's game.

Item: With the remaining dates filled in last week to formalize the 2018 Syracuse football schedule, the Orange are left with not only opening up on the road, but also facing both ACC power programs Florida State and Clemson before the end of September.

We’ve never liked the not-so-frequent Syracuse football schedules in which the regular season opened up, and ended, with road games.

It hasn’t happened for the Orange since 2008 (at Northwestern and at Cincinnati during a 3-9 season, the final under Greg Robinson), but it’s back for the upcoming season with the tricky opener at Western Michigan (Sept. 1), and ending with the now seemingly permanent final game rivalry opponent matchup versus Boston College, this year post-Thanksgiving to be played in the Boston suburbs (each team has won on the opponent’s field in the last two years).

The potential tricky road trip to Kalamazoo to open up play Labor Day weekend against one time (2013-15) SU assistant Tim Lester, is followed by the now annual (since 2009) matchup against a FCS opponent, with Wagner (Sept. 8) returning to the Dome where it fell 54-0 in week three of the 2013 season.

» Related: Late in the season, Syracuse couldn’t hide defensive problems

It’s too bad those two opening opponents couldn’t be switched in order the other way around.

Then the ACC made sure ‘the ‘Cuse would know exactly it’s conference course by scheduling the Florida State home game for week three (Sept. 15), then at Clemson in week five (Sept. 29) sandwiching around the close of the Connecticut home-and-home series with a Dome game against Randy Edsall and the Huskies (Sept.22).

October begins with a road test at Pittsburgh (Oct. 6), then the open week follows at the exact halfway point (Oct. 13) splitting 12 games over 13 weeks, a good time to regroup.

Back-to-back home games against North Carolina (Oct. 20) and N.C. State (Oct. 27), offset a November with only one home game, Louisville on a Friday night (Nov. 9) televised on an ESPN channel, always good for exposure and with recruits as long as it’s a competitive game or an upset as in the Clemson victory this past season.

Even with Notre Dame’s famous “Subway Alumni” in New York literally a subway ride away to Yankee Stadium to catch ND’s home-away-from-home meeting against Syracuse eight days later (Nov. 17) in its “Shamrock Series” game displaced from South Bend, the large Orange alumni base around the City and even fans who decide to come down from CNY, should be able to get tickets inside the 50,000 seat plus venue to perhaps neutralize the devout Irish partisans.

November road games at Wake Forest (Nov. 3) and the aforementioned BC finale (Nov. 24) make the final month that much more difficult, with SU likely fighting those teams in the Atlantic Division pecking order and for bowl game eligibility.

If Syracuse, 4-8 in Dino Babers two seasons, can get to 6-6, it will likely need to go 4-2 at home and 2-4 on the road, and that will be a big step up for a program continually building ACC-level depth in Babers third year.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 522 Articles
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.