Orange Watch: A rare scheduling quirk for 2021 Syracuse football

Syracuse Wake Forest
Oct 31, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons running back Christian Beal-Smith (26) is tackled by a number of Syracuse Orange defenders in the first quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Item: When Wake Forest (October 9) and Boston College (October 30) play inside the Dome this season and after Syracuse travels to Louisville (November 13), it will mark the first time the Orange have played an ACC team three straight years either home or away in the nine seasons they have been conference members.  Overall, three straight games against an opponent in consecutive years home or away is uncommon in the post-World War II era (1945-present) of Syracuse football (it did happen often in the first half of the 20th century), occurring only three other times against two opponents.  

Due to the pandemic plagued 2020 season, the schedules for most college football teams were left in disarray due to conference decisions and state government restrictions.  That included Syracuse in terms of its odd/even year and home and away rotation among its six Atlantic Division rivals:

ACC Odd Years

  • Home = Boston College/Clemson/Wake Forest/Pittsburgh-Primary Crossover Opponent
  • Away = Florida State/Louisville/North Carolina State/Coastal Crossover Opponent

» Related: Syracuse looking for hope in 2021 football season

ACC Even Years

  • Home = Florida State/Louisville/North Carolina State/Coastal Crossover opponent
  • Away = Boston College/Clemson/Wake Forest/Pittsburgh-Primary Crossover Opponent

The ACC limited teams to one non-conference matchup in 2020’s 11-game schedule, and Notre Dame became a one-year conference participant, facing SU instead of the Orange meeting division rival Florida State in the Dome.  It also set into motion the conference going back to the odd/even year alteration, bringing BC and Wake back to the Dome again, and the ‘Cuse traveling to the ‘Ville.

(Side Note: Syracuse also has six future games with quasi-ACC member Notre Dame scheduled through 2037, three home (including 2022) and three away.  That’s more games than against longtime rivals Virginia Tech (away 2021) and Miami (home 2024).  It doesn’t make sense.  New commissioner Jim Phillips should lead the charge (with John Wildhack), as the College Football Playoff eyes expansion from four teams, to rid the league of two divisions in football after 2024.)

Here are the other three instances in which the ‘Cuse faced an opponent three straight seasons in the same venue:

  • West Virginia (1961-63 at Archbold Stadium) – SU went 2-1 in the trio of games, the first of which was in Ernie Davis’s Heisman Trophy-winning season with the Orangemen ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll.  The average crowd inside Archbold for the three meetings with the Mountaineers was 20,000.
  • West Virginia (1964-66 at Mountaineer Field) – After three straight in central New York, the teams met for three consecutive years in Morgantown, W.V. at the old Mountaineer Field in either the last game, or second-to-last of each season.  SU won twice, but the loss was a huge 28-27 upset in ’64 when 7-2 Syracuse was ranked 9th in the country.
  • East Carolina (1992-94 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium) – Syracuse played in (then) sleepy Greenville, N.C. for three straight seasons in the Paul Pasqualoni era, winning all three games by an average of 13.6 points.  In the first two games the stadium was known as Ficklen Stadium, renamed before the ’94 season thanks to a $1 million donation from the Dowdy family.

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About Brad Bierman 753 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.