The Daily Orange is a nonprofit newsroom that receives no funding from Syracuse University. Consider donating today to support our mission.
After a 5-7 season in which Syracuse failed to match its preseason anticipation and won just two Atlantic Coast Conference games, the Orange kick off an unprecedented 11-game campaign on Saturday at North Carolina. SU will play 10 ACC games and one nonconference game against Liberty, and it opens the renovated Carrier Dome on Sept. 26 with Georgia Tech.
Here’s how The Daily Orange’s beat writers think Syracuse will fare this season, assuming the full year is completed:
A quick glance at the Syracuse schedule, specifically the road games, doesn’t give a ton of optimism toward the Orange’s chances in 2020. They’ll be double-digit underdogs in all five road games, but the schedule does feature enough winnable games at home that, if SU’s offense takes a step forward after the multiple steps back it took in 2019, they should win a few games. Tommy DeVito will have a solid second season as full time Syracuse starter, while tight end Aaron Hackett and Luke Benson become bright spots in an otherwise average SU offense.
Syracuse’s front six will struggle to stop the run, but the secondary will force enough turnovers to keep the Orange in games at home against similarly talented opposition. Syracuse loses all five road games, but grabs wins against Liberty, Boston College, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest en route to a mediocre 4-7 record. After a 1-3 start with a few ugly losses to UNC and Pittsburgh, the Orange get healthier up front on the offensive line, improve in its defensive scheme and avoid a disaster of a season. In the end, 2020’s football season will be remembered for all the circumstances and events that happened off the field, rather than what happened on it.
You can do it
There’s a scene in “The Waterboy” where it’s revealed that main character Bobby Boucher, played by Adam Sandler, didn’t go to high school and is therefore ruled ineligible by the NCAA. To that revelation, a townie (Rob Schneider) exclaims, “Oh no! We suck again!”
While Syracuse won’t be missing a phenom middle linebacker (though it is still possible a star player opts out because of COVID-19), the Orange face a similarly dire outlook as Boucher’s fictional University of Louisiana team. SU has talent, but deficiencies on the defensive line and at wide receiver, a big question mark in the offensive line, and a tough schedule dig Syracuse a hole. Winnable games include Liberty, Duke, Boston College, Georgia Tech and NC State, of which Syracuse will win two and lead Otto’s Army to quote Rob Schneider.
The kids will be alright
This Syracuse team surely doesn’t have the expectations of the 2019 one, and players have been quick to point out how they have a chip on their shoulder. But, I don’t think there’s enough experience on this roster to have a winning season. Winning on the road in this conference requires poise, and there aren’t enough guys on this roster who’ve played key minutes. The talent is promising. Mikel Jones was a 4-star coming out of high school, Taj Harris has flashed in spurts, and Matthew Bergeron can be the lynchpin of the offensive line. The defense could win the Orange games but, I don’t see how they string together six wins in a season with 10 conference games.
It’s difficult to see how SU wins on the road against Clemson, UNC, Notre Dame, Pitt or Louisville. The Orange will defeat Liberty, NC State, Duke and Georgia Tech — all home games. In what might be a wasted year anyway due to COVID-19, it might not be so bad to rebuild. They’ll end up with a losing record, but SU will have plenty of positives to take to 2021.
The post Beat writers predict a difficult, ‘underdog’ 2020 season appeared first on The Daily Orange.