Item: It’s our annual August guess as to how the Orange football season will play out, in this case year number three of the Dino Babers era, and the sixth year in the ultra-competitive ACC. With both the university, the program, and fan base starving for a bowl game, can the ‘Cuse hit the minimum six victory mark (or better) to qualify for the postseason? Part I, below, details games 1 through 3. Part II, running tomorrow, covers games 4 through 6. Part III and IV will be published the week of Aug. 20 covering games 7-12/13/14 (we’re simply covering our bases).
Syracuse opens up its 129th season of college football with a true road game for the first time since the 2010 season (at Akron) at Western Michigan on Aug. 31, in the Broncos 30,200 seat Waldo Stadium. The game will mark the first of three in which the opposing head coaches have past SU ties. WMU boss Tim Lester (2013-15) joins Connecticut’s Randy Edsall (1980-1990) and Boston College’s Steve Addazio (1995-96, 1997-98) as former Orange assistants running their own shows, albeit in just his second season following an 18 year run up the coaching ladder to finally running his own show for this successful-of-late MAC program. Lester’s returning to calling the plays this season for his excellent redshirt junior quarterback Jon Wassink coming back from missing the final four games last season with a broken collarbone. Prediction: A late Sterling Hofrichter field goal ices a 27-18 tough road victory. (1-0, 0-0)
Eight days later, fans headed to what will no doubt be a stuffy and hot “Our House” on the afternoon of Sept. 8 for the home opener against FCS foe Wagner, will also be met with new “Public Safety” guidelines. The university’s Clear Bag Policy and walkthrough metal detectors keeps the Dome up-to-speed with the NFL and most other major college program venues, requiring a clear bag of a certain size to contain select personal items and being scanned through the detector. You can still bring binoculars to watch the game, but not the case. Prediction: The last time the Seahawks came through town in 2013 they departed dropping a 54-0 blitz. This time around, we get a glimpse of the future in Tommy DeVito, and a not-quite-as humdrum 38-6 final score. (2-0, 0-0)
The likely same hot conditions under the soon-to-be-replaced (we hope it’s soon) Teflon Top roof the following Saturday is not going to bother a Florida State team that deals with Tallahassee weather all the time. The Seminoles have Virginia Tech and Samford to tune up before their annual Atlantic Division trip (B.C.) up north to face SU this year. All eyes will be on new coach Willie Taggart in how he utilizes his abundance of talent after a year at Oregon and eight seasons before that at Western Kentucky and South Florida. While the Seminoles have the name and flair, we have a hunch that the Orange, after scoring on the opening drive of this 12:00 kickoff, will hold a 14-0 lead, and then go up 21-10, before FSU claws back to lead 24-21 in the fourth quarter and then forces SU to punt. But a fumble recovery in great field position translate into a late Syracuse score on an Eric Dungey keeper and improbable 28-24 win, and the second 3-0 start in four seasons. It turns out to be a long evening of celebrating in the ‘Cuse. (3-0, 1-0)
Check back in tomorrow for Part II and predictions on games 4 through 6!