USC, seven home games highlight Orange’s 2011 football schedule

Syracuse will open the 2011 football season with four of its first five games inside the Carrier Dome.  The lone road trip will be out west to Los Angeles, where the Orange will play the first in a two-game series against the University of Southern California. The return match will take place at the New Meadowlands Stadium in 2012.

The Orange’s other opponents during that stretch include the home opener against Wake Forest, followed by Rhode Island, Toledo and Rutgers.  Those teams went a combined 20-28 last year with Toledo being the only club to have an above .500 record (8-5) and have played in a bowl game (Little Caesar’s Bowl vs. FIU). Syracuse has a very good chance of getting through this stretch of games at 4-1.

After the Big East home opener against Rutgers on Oct. 1, it will be something of a homecoming for head coach Doug Marrone, as the Orange head to New Orleans to take on Tulane.  The Green Wave finished the 2010 campaign with a 4-8 record, winning just two of their seven home games. Syracuse will get a much needed bye week before returning home to host the West Virginia Mountaineers on Oct. 22.

Following the Battle for the Schwartzwalder Trophy, Syracuse hits the road for its longest time away from upstate New York: a two-game trip through Louisville and East Hartford.

Doug Marrone’s club will then return home to host Friday night football, as Syracuse battles South Florida on Nov. 11 at 8 pm ET (ESPN2).  The Orange defeated the Bulls last season, 13-9, winning its first of four Big East road games. The team will enjoy its second bye week before closing out the home slate on Nov. 26 against Cincinnati.

Syracuse wraps up the regular season with what could be a huge game at Pittsburgh on Dec. 3.  The Orange got embarrassed last year at the hands of the Panthers, falling 45-14 at the Dome. This game will be televised on ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2.

One thing to keep an eye on is that the Orange play seven home games.  This team did not win a single game against a BCS opponent during the 2010 season. You’d have to go back to Nov. 21, 2009, when Syracuse defeated Rutgers 31-13, to find the Orange’s last win against a non-FCS opponent at home. It will also be interesting to see if the Orange finds as much success on the road in conference play as it did in last year.

Projected 2011 Record: 8-4 (4-3)

Sat. Sept. 3 Wake Forest
Sat. Sept. 10 Rhode Island
Sat. Sept. 17 @Southern California
Sat. Sept. 24 Toledo
Sat. Oct. 1 Rutgers
Sat. Oct. 8 @Tulane
Sat. Oct. 22 West Virginia
Sat. Oct. 29 @Louisville
Sat. Nov. 5 @Connecticut
Fri. Nov. 11 USF 8 p.m. ET/ESPN2
Sat. Nov. 26 Cincinnati
Sat. Dec. 3 @Pittsburgh TBD/ABC, ESPN or ESPN2

*Big East games in bold