How many games will SU win? — 2020 Syracuse Football preview

Syracuse opens its 2020 season this Saturday against North Carolina. How will Syracuse do this season? Our panel weighs in…

Judy Judy Salamone
Prediction: 5-6

It’s hard to believe that this week the Syracuse football team will finally kick-off the 2020 season against the 18th ranked North Carolina Tar Heels at Chapel Hill.

It’s hard to believe, since one has wondered if a season would even happen to begin with. Well, it’s finally here.

One thing we have learned in the past six months is the only thing known is the unknown, and going day-by-day, instead of looking too far into the future (even the next day) has become the norm.

So when asked to predict how the Orange will finish this campaign, (or if they even get to complete the entire campaign for that matter) the fifth under head coach Dino Babers, and two new coordinators-Sterlin Gilbert on offense and Tony White on defense, one really needs to totally take a stab in the dark.

Here it goes… 5-6 with wins over Georgia Tech, Duke, Liberty, Wake Forest and Boston College, and losses to North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Clemson, Louisville, North Carolina State and Notre Dame.

Every season, there are coaching changes and players might have to adjust to new systems. Every season, a new player will be asked to fill the shoes of one that has graduated. These are the norms in college football.

So many variables effect the outcomes of seasons. This year, the biggest variable is the pandemic. Will college campuses be forced to close? How long will there be football if that’s the case? The only known is the unknown.

brendanBrendan Blehar
Prediction: 6-5

With Syracuse finishing their 2019 season at 5-7, I look for them to have somewhat of a bounce back year in 2020. I see them finishing 6-5.

While this may not be any significant improvement and may not be what the Syracuse faithful are looking for, a 6-5 year in a tough ACC is definitely an improvement especially given the circumstances of this season.

I see Tommy DeVito taking the necessary steps to leap forward to being the quarterback that he was projected to be in 2019. Syracuse opens the season with a couple of tough games that could easily slate them with an 0-2 record, but, luckily, they will be able to string together a few wins after the tough start.

While this is a team sport, I feel much of the burden is on the QBs shoulders. DeVito is a guy who came into games off the bench and lit it up in 2018. I think with less fans/less noise, this is the perfect opportunity for DeVito to take it one play at a time and not get wrapped up in any sort of emotion that a sold out, raucous crowd can bring.

I expect not only DeVito to benefit from this but also, lets remember, Dino Babers is a great coach, less noise means more learning opportunities for the quarterback/head coach combo.

» Related: Can Syracuse make a bowl game in 2020?

wesWes Cheng
Prediction: 4-7

The schedule makers did Syracuse no favors, adding two ACC teams to their schedule that are expected to finish near the top at season’s end: Notre Dame and UNC.

North Carolina was expected to be at the top of the Coastal Division, with Sam Howell projected as one of the top quarterbacks in the country. Notre Dame starts the season ranked inside the top 10, and is projected to challenge Clemson for ACC supremacy.

Without an FCS school or non-Power 5 team to ease into the conference schedule, it’s hard to work out the kinks of a completely new defensive scheme (3-3-5) and new coordinators on each side of the ball. To be sure, the changes will pay dividends on the long run, but without spring practices and a limited summer camp, it’s unreasonable to think the defense will be a stout one right away.

Then there is Syracuse’s offensive line, which is still waiting on the NCAA to rule on the immediate eligibility of Chris Bleich, and the status of Dakota Davis, who is still rehabbing an injury and has not appeared in any practices so far. The Orange is thin up front, and if you mix in the uncertainty of the pandemic, it’s a tough situation for success.

There are no gimmies on this schedule. Liberty, Duke, and Georgia Tech at home provide the best chances for wins, with some combination of the Wake Forest and Boston College home games giving SU the best opportunity for that fourth win.

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