Schedule Analysis & Prediction — 2019 Syracuse Football preview

Dontae Strickland
Syracuse running back Dontae Strickland rushes against Louisville. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

2019 SYRACUSE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE (all listed times Eastern, time and TV coverage subject to change)

DATE TIME OPPONENT TELEVISION
Sat, Aug 31 6:00pm at Liberty ESPN+
Sat, Sep 7 12:00pm at Maryland ESPN/ESPN2
Sat, Sep 14 7:30pm CLEMSON ABC
Sat, Sep 21 TBD WESTERN MICHIGAN TBD
Sat, Sep 28 TBD HOLY CROSS TBD
Thu, Oct 10 8:00pm at North Carolina State ESPN
Fri, Oct 18 7:00pm PITTSBURGH ESPN
Sat, Oct 26 TBD at Florida State TBD
Sat, Nov 2 TBD BOSTON COLLEGE TBD
Sat, Nov 16 TBD at Duke TBD
Sat, Nov 23 TBD at Louisville TBD
Sat, Nov 30 TBD WAKE FOREST TBD

SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN

Only one team on SU’s schedule enters the season ranked – #1 Clemson. The Orange, however, are probably not afraid of the Tigers, having knocked them off two years ago at home and falling by four points on the road last season, failing to hang onto a ten-point fourth quarter lead. Clemson will come back to the Dome this season and that game will have plenty of hype, as it has already been announced as the ABC national Saturday night game and will be a strong candidate to have ESPN’s College Gameday come to campus if both teams are unblemished.

The Tigers are the only opponent entering the season who will definitely be favored over Syracuse. The rest of the conference slate features the remainder of the Atlantic Division, who were all voted behind the Orange in the conference preseason media poll and there was a pretty decent gap between SU and the third- and fourth-place teams, Florida State and N.C. State. Both of those opponents, however will be hosting the Orange, so there is an extra element of danger in those games.

The two crossover opponents from the Coastal Division are rival Pitt and Duke, who were voted fourth and fifth, respectively, in their division. That, along with a relatively light non-conference schedule should set things up very nicely for a successful season. Maryland as the only Power Five opponent on the slate, but their appearance a

week before Clemson makes that road contest more of a potential trap game. Western Michigan, who should contend for their division in the MAC, is the second-toughest non-conference matchup. Liberty has only recently jumped to FBS status and Holy Cross is an FCS level foe.

» Related: Previewing the 2019 Syracuse defense

The layout of the schedule is fairly beneficial, as well. The Orange get their first bye week after five games. They return to games on a Thursday, a Friday, and a Saturday, meaning they get at least one extra day of rest between those three contests. The second bye comes before the final three games, meaning the team’s two off weeks are about as equally spread out in their schedule as they can be.

SEASON PREDICTION

The Orange come into the 2019 season with something unusual – expectations. After finishing 10-3 last season, the team has quality depth at several positions (defensive end, defensive back, running backs, wide receiver) and they replace arguably the most productive quarterback in school history quarterback with one of the most highly-regarded prospects at the position in school history.

There are some things the Orange did last season that will likely not happen this time around. SU finished fifth nationally in both interceptions and fumble recoveries, forcing 31 turnovers overall, good for third in the country. Achieving at that level again is not something to be expected.

At the same time, there is plenty of talent on the defense. The line, particularly the ends, is experienced and has impact players. The pass-rushing threat provided by Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman on the ends is something opponents must account for.

That pass rush will play into the hands of the deep secondary. Six different returning defensive backs made interceptions last season, tallying 15 pickoffs, collectively. Two former starters with tons of experience in Scoop Bradshaw and Antwan Cordy may be coming off the bench.

On offense, the skill positions seem to be overflowing with talent, but the line needs to be solidified. The uncertainty and shuffling of players through different positions will likely lead to some rough spots as they take time to become a cohesive unit. With Clemson looming in mid-September, that cohesion will be needed in a hurry.

While there are expectations based on his pedigree and the capabilities he showed at times last season, Tommy DeVito will still be a first-time starter, taking over for Eric Dungey. DeVito is a more polished passer than Dungey, but Dungey’s leadership and toughness will be missed. The redshirt sophomore will live up to his billing, though, making Syracuse a different kind of good from what they were last season.

All in all, the expectations for the Orange are well-founded and the team should live up to them. Syracuse will go 9-3 this season with the possibility of reaching 10-2, finishing second in the Atlantic Division to Clemson, but end up as the ACC representative in the Orange Bowl.

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Jim Stechschulte
About Jim Stechschulte 588 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.