Coming off a 4-8 season and a head coaching change, there are varying levels of expectation around the 2016 team. Can Dino Babers get the Orange started off on the right foot with six wins an a berth in a bowl game?
To figure out the realistic range of wins, I separated the 2016 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): Colgate.
- 2nd Tier (Should Win): Connecticut.
- 3rd Tier (Coin Flip): Boston College. Pittsburgh. USF. Wake Forest. NC State.
- 4th Tier (Should Lose): Louisville. Notre Dame. Virginia Tech.
- 5th Tier (Will Lose): Florida State. Clemson.
The most difficult tiers to categorize came from the third and fourth tier. If there was a 3.5 tier, I would put both NC State, USF and Pittsburgh in that category.
Syracuse played Pitt close in 2015, losing 23-20 in a game that reminded me of the old Big East days. But this season, the Orange is on the road, and the Panthers have made significant strides. Both USF and NC State had no problems with Syracuse at home last year, but the Orange is hosting, and I think its new offensive style of play matches up well against these two teams.
Could you make the argument that Boston College belongs in the second tier? The Orange has played well against them in recent seasons, including winning in Scott Shafer’s final game as head coach of the Orange at the Carrier Dome. But this year, the series flips back to Massachusetts, and the games have always been close regardless of personnel or coaches.
Two of these games we know Syracuse has no shot in. Clemson and Florida State are once again poised to represent the ACC in the College Football Playoffs. Notre Dame has an outside shot of that, as well, and if there was a tier 4.5, I would put them there.
On the other side, of the coin, the Orange should have no problems with FBS Colgate. So that’s four games where the result isn’t in question.
So how about he remaining eight games? Well, an optimist would take tier one (Colgate) and two (Connecticut), and probably split the coin flips (Wake Forest, Boston College and perhaps USF?) and steal a game out of tier four (Louisville at home?). That would put the Orange at six wins, and a bowl game.
A pessimist? Take the Colgate game and Connecticut, and then only wins against BC and Wake Forest, which would give the 2016 edition only four wins, matching Shafer’s final year at SU.