For Syracuse football, the expectations are so low, the questions marks are plentiful, the forecasts are dim, and the Orange fan base is nervous.
We’ve documented the prognosticators who say that the ‘Cuse will likely finish at No. 14 or No. 15 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which would prove extremely disappointing following a sub-par 5-7 record in 2019.
Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, multiple conferences around the country have halted their fall sports, including football. The ACC is pressing ahead, though, with an 11-affair slate that includes one non-conference foe. And, as we all know, Notre Dame is joining the ACC for 2020 only amid the pandemic.
Dino Babers, entering his fifth stanza as head coach of Syracuse football, is so energetic and likable. He’s recruiting at a strong clip for the squad’s 2021 class.
Yet with a career mark of 23-26 on the Hill, he needs to get things turned around – and in a relatively quick manner. That 10-3 performance in 2018, in which the Orange won a bowl game and finished No. 15 in the major top-25 polls, appears somewhat of an anomaly at this juncture with the ‘Cuse.
Plus, in 2020, Syracuse football boasts one of the toughest schedules across the sport, with road trips to No. 18 North Carolina this Saturday, along with No. 1 Clemson, No. 10 Notre Dame, Louisville and Pittsburgh later on.
Such difficult ACC clashes away from the Carrier Dome, however, also provide the Orange with a chance to notch an impressive conquest or two, while also quieting the doubters down a tad.
Conversely, the ‘Cuse home docket is undeniably more favorable. If, somehow, someway, Syracuse football could sweep its opponents in Central New York – and they are Georgia Tech, Duke, Liberty, Wake Forest, Boston College and N.C. State – then the Orange is guaranteed an above .500 record and a post-season bowl invite.
Heck, should Syracuse football score a victory on the road, it could afford to drop a home battle, and the ‘Cuse would still manage a 6-5 achievement.
Despite much uncertainty, not everything within the Syracuse football program in 2020 is cause for pessimism. The secondary is stellar. The running backs, thrust into bigger roles, are promising. The wide receivers have talent. So, too, does the quarterback. The placekicker is tremendous.
Yes, the offensive line is in a precarious position. There are first-year offensive and defensive coordinators, as well as a new defensive system. The punter is unproven, and how the linebackers will fare remains unclear.
All of this is just background noise, though, for the Orange. The Syracuse football players, beginning this Saturday at noon in Chapel Hill, N.C., have to lock in, ignore the critics and show what they can do on the field.
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