The 2018 Syracuse football campaign was one that brought its fanbase back in time. Last season marked the first time since 2001 that the Orange reached ten wins in a season and that campaign also marked the last time SU was ranked in the national polls. Syracuse wrapped up Dino Babers’ third season at the controls with a 10-3 mark, a win over West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl, and the #15 ranking in both polls.
The team started the 2018 campaign with four straight victories, grabbing headlines in week three by thumping Florida State at the Carrier Dome, 30-7. The Orange then traveled to Clemson and held a 23-13 lead early in the fourth quarter, but wilted, allowing the eventual national champions a pair of touchdowns, the latter with 41 seconds left.
SU dropped their second straight road game the following week, an overtime loss at Pittsburgh, but responded with another four-game winning streak. The offense propelled the Orange in that span, averaging 44 points per contest, including a pair of 50-plus point explosions.
Syracuse fell to 8-3 after being routed in Yankee Stadium by #3 Notre Dame, but bounced back to close their schedule with a 42-21 win at Boston College. The team received a berth in the Camping World Bowl and scored the final 17 points of the game to pull out a 34-18 victory over West Virginia.
That double-digit win campaign has reinvigorated the football program. In spite of the loss of do-everything quarterback Eric Dungey (11,333 career yards of total offense and 92 career touchdowns good for first and second in school history, respectively), more good things are expected of the team, which was voted #22 in both the AP and coaches polls prior to the season.
The team was voted second in the Atlantic Division in the ACC Media Preseason Poll behind Clemson, garnering a pair of first-place votes both in their division and in the conference as a whole. The Orange return 14 starters overall, including eight on defense. Senior defensive ends Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson each logged ten sacks last season while sophomore free safety Andre Cisco received All-American honors both following last season and heading into this campaign.
The half dozen returning starters on the offensive side of the ball include three different wide receivers who snared at least 40 passes last season. Senior Sean Riley, junior Nykeim Johnson, and sophomore Taj Harris all return as targets for redshirt sophomore quarterback Tommy DeVito, one of the most heralded SU recruits in a long time. Moe Neal also returns in the backfield, needing just under 750 rushing yards to crack the top ten in Syracuse history.
In short, high expectations, the likes of which have not been around this program in a couple decades, are back. It remains to be seen if Syracuse can build on last season’s success.