Orange Watch: Syracuse football maintains tough future out of conference schedule

Eric Dungey breaks a tackle during Syracuse's 51-21 win over UCONN. Mandatory Photo Credit: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online.

Item: Last week’s announcement that Syracuse and Penn State have renewed their football series for the first time since 2008-2009 with games scheduled at State College in 2027 and in the Dome in 2028, continues the trend of the program facing Power 5 conference teams virtually every season in non-ACC games. The problem is, this century SU has not won a lot of those matchups.

With the current in-flux state of college football where the Big Ten ($57M) and SEC ($54M) rule financially with annual media rights payments to its members (over $25M more than the ACC), it behooves a program like Syracuse to face Power 5 teams each season.

Home and home contracts versus P5’s help monetarily, and victories are an added bonus to qualifying for a bowl game sprinkled in with the yearly eight ACC games and supposed built-in wins against lower tier FBS and FCS opponents.

This coming season is a prime example. There’s two P5 games against Purdue (September 17) and Notre Dame (October 29), a game at Independent FBS opponent Connecticut (September 10), and the FCS meeting with Wagner (October 1).

With off-season optimism but a tough conference opener September 3 in the Dome against Louisville (the ‘Cuse is 1-7 against the Cards in eight ACC matchups), at least the P5 games are at home to potentially draw respectable loud crowds and perhaps even an upset along the way to a hoped-for 2022 bowl season.

For helpful recruiting exposure, besides playing Penn State later this decade, Notre Dame is on the future schedule six more times through 2037, there’s the return home game at Purdue next season, and the 2025 Kickoff Classic game at Atlanta versus Tennessee already booked.

The flip side of playing P5 teams is the Orange’s record dating back to the 2000 season. In 43 regular season games (Notre Dame was an ACC opponent in 2020) SU is an astonishingly bad 8-35 (19%).

The highlight victories were stunning the Fighting Irish in South Bend in Greg Robinson’s penultimate game in 2008, shocking Missouri on the road in 2012 under Doug Marrone and beating North Carolina in triple OT in 2003, and Auburn in the Dome in 2001 guided by Paul Pasqualoni.

» Related: Previewing Syracuse’s quarterbacks heading into 2022

Interestingly, Syracuse has exceeded expectations in bowl games against P5 opponents going 5-1 (83%) since 2000, and each SU head coach with the exception of Robinson, has been victorious:

Coach Bowl Game Opponent
Paul Pasqualoni 2001 Bowl Kansas State
Doug Marrone 2010 Pinstripe Bowl Kansas State
Doug Marrone 2012 Pinstripe Bowl West Virginia
Scott Shafer 2013 Texas Bowl Minnesota
Dino Babers 2018 Camping World Bowl West Virginia

Unless Babers can meet the expectations of AD John Wildhack to win more games, he’s not going to be on the sideline coaching against the Penn States and Notre Dames on the future Syracuse schedules.

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About Brad Bierman 848 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.