With the 2013 college football season rapidly approaching, fans are craving any and every taste of what is to come in what should be an invigorating year. As we inch closer to the action kicking off on August 29, I'll release schedule analysis for a new ACC school every other day. For now, let's take a look at the Syracuse Orange:
Aug. 31 - vs. Penn St. (Meadowlands)
Sept. 7 - at Northwestern
Sept. 14 - Wagner
Sept. 21 - Tulane
Sept. 28 - Open
Oct. 5 - Clemson
Oct. 12 - at N.C. State
Oct. 19 - at Georgia Tech
Oct. 26 - Open
Nov. 2 - Wake Forest
Nov. 9 - at Maryland
Nov. 16 - at Florida State
Nov. 23 - Pittsburgh
Nov. 30 - Boston College
Schedule obtained from the official website of Syracuse athletics
The Orange enjoy six true home games this season, a neutral-site showdown and five matchups on the road. While the ideal schedule would include more home games, the non-conference schedule is less challenging than it was a season ago when they faced three FBS opponents.
While championship contenders would prefer to play their most difficult games in the comfort of their own stadium, it may not be the worst thing that the Orange travel to both Florida State and Georgia Tech; it's unlikely Syracuse would win those games anyway.
When December rolls around, 'Cuse won't be playing for a conference title, but that doesn't mean head coach Scott Shafer's squad has nothing to play for.
Shafer's familiarity with the program and experience coaching under former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone makes for a smooth transition, while his energetic personality injects confidence and motivation into this team.
Drew Allen wins the quarterback battle and becomes the undisputed starter heading into the season, and the Orange establish a passing game strong enough to balance an already solid rushing attack. On defense, Micah Robinson and Robert Welsh step up to cancel out some of the losses in D-line personnel, and the front seven turns out to be better than expected.
Syracuse claims victory over three of its non-conference foes and defeats everyone but Clemson in the Carrier Dome. Stealing road wins against N.C. State and Maryland, Shafer bursts onto the scene in the ACC with eight regular-season wins in Year 1.
Ryan Nassib meant everything to this team, and early season losses make it tough for the players and fans to buy into Shafer. Not-so-quiet grumblings over athletic director Daryl Gross' decision to hire from within fill the Carrier Dome and grow louder as the season progresses.
Neither Drew Allen nor Terrel Hunt can convincingly win the QB battle, and Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley fail to get things going out of the backfield when the quarterbacks can't open it up through the air.
The defense is missing too many parts, and Syracuse's first year in the ACC is a failure. The Orange lose every game on the road and are unable to create a real home-field advantage. The season ends as a 2-10 disaster, looking like a snapshot of the Greg Robinson years.
'Cuse is not an ACC title contender. Plain and simple. The Orange are light years behind Clemson and Florida State, but they're not far behind the others in the Atlantic Division. With home games against Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Boston College, Syracuse could definitely put together a decent record. If those home games become losses, however, this could be a long year in Central New York.
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