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Syracuse Football Preview: Schedule

Dino Babers leads Syracuse out on the field for the Pinstripe Bowl against Minnesota on December 29th, 2022.
Dino Babers leads Syracuse out on the field for the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium against Minnesota on December 29th, 2022.

Last season, Syracuse football went 7-6 after a blistering 6-0 start that earned the squad its first bowl berth since 2018 and a ranking as high as 14th in the AP polls. The Orange had a 2022 season where it outshined expectations to start before a buildup of injuries caused SU to crash down the stretch. Ultimately culminating with a 28-20 loss to Minnesota in the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl, SU now seeks to post consecutive seasons above .500 for the first time in a decade (2012-13).

“We've got to find a way to stay healthy.” says Head Coach Dino Babers. “We've got good enough players to win big games. We’ve got good enough players to get ranked. It’s staying healthy [because] we lost seven starters in the first six games [last season].”

Weeks 1-4

While a repeat 6-0 start may be impractical, the ‘Cuse’s non-conference games provide some early chances to get in the win column. Included in this September slate are matchups at home against Colgate, Western Michigan, and Army with a road match to Purdue sprinkled in between.

Week 1: vs. Colgate (Sept. 2)

Even if Colgate basketball has had Syracuse’s number in the Dome as of recent, the Orange have beaten the Red Raiders in sixteen straight contests dating back to 1951; Don’t let the 31-31 history between the two teams deceive you. A home opener matchup with an FCS team that posted a 3-8 record in 2022 should provide new offensive and defensive coordinators Jason Beck and Rocky Long a solid chance to practice and perfect the new offense and 3-3-5 defense.

Week 2: vs. Western Michigan (Sept. 9)

Western Michigan should get Babers’ bunch a third of the way to bowling. Last season, this Broncos offense ranked among the poorest in the nation, averaging the 7th-fewest yards per game in all of the FBS. Improvement from 2022 isn’t necessarily inevitable for WMU either, as almost every unit was gutted due to the NFL Draft, transfers, or graduates. With a team this youthful, it should almost certainly result in another tune-up game for SU in Week 2.

Week 3: at Purdue (Sept. 16)

While Jeff Brohm moved in conference to his alma mater Louisville, it’s a deja vu Week 3 for the ‘Cuse after a thrilling ending to last year’s contest inside the JMA Wireless Dome. The West Lafayette crowd certainly will have a bad taste in their mouth going into the prime time matchup, but with a new head coach, and regression at nearly every position, this shouldn’t be nearly as daunting as last year. The three-headed monster of Charlie Jones (Cincinnati Bengals), Aidan O’Connell (Las Vegas Raiders), and Payne Durham (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) that terrorized the Mob defense last year have all moved on, and many of their replacements have been slotted with transfers.

Week 4: vs. Army (Sept. 23)

Army’s first trip to the Dome since 1996 represents the start of the final home-and-home series for Syracuse. The Army’s synonymous “triple-read” offense is now retired due to the NCAA rule change that cut blocking, or blocking below the waist, is prohibited within the tackle box. Head coach Jeff Monken has announced the offense would now operate mostly out of the shotgun, which should match up much more evenly with the 3-3-5. Assuming SU can take three or all four of these games, it’s important to remember the validity of this squad won’t be well-known until September ends.

Weeks 5-7

The Orange face a similar difficult three-game stretch in the middle of the season (Clemson, North Carolina, Florida State) this year as it did last year (Clemson, Notre Dame, Florida State). Syracuse dropped all three of those games in 2022, two of which were in the JMA Wireless Dome. This time, two are on the road.

Week 5: vs. Clemson (Sept. 30)

First on the murderer’s row is a rematch with the defending ACC champions, Clemson. After a heartbreaking 27-21 loss in Death Valley last season, SU has certainly had this game circled on their calendar since last October. Despite a 1-9 record since joining the ACC, the Orange for the most part have kept the Tigers at bay in the Loud House. Any chance to win though will require the minimization in production of both heroes in last year’s bout, Quarterback Cade Klubnik and Running Back Will Shipley.

The Syracuse defense attempts to bring down Clemson QB Cade Klubnik (Orange).
The Syracuse defense attempts to bring down Clemson QB Cade Klubnik (Orange).

Week 6: at North Carolina (Oct. 7)

Syracuse’s reward for being at the halfway point of the season is a matchup with North Carolina; this squad features potential Heisman candidate, and the conference’s most accurate quarterback last season in Drake Maye. However, UNC has been torched by poor defensive play the last couple of years. In 2022, the Tar Heel defense ranked dead last in scoring and allowed 437 yards + 31 points per game. These two paired together will likely make for a high scoring affair. The effectiveness of Jason Beck’s offense should be the X-factor to decide which end the Orange come out on.

Week 7: at Florida State (Oct. 14)

On the brink of a bye week, and after facing the two contenders in last year’s conference championship, it’ll certainly be a struggle to get to that finish line for SU. To say the ‘Cuse can expect to get chopped in Tallahassee may be an understatement. Flying high as the ACC favorite, Florida State returns 17 starters on both offense and defense and is without a doubt the most veteranized unit in the conference. Although it can’t get much worse than a 38-3 shellacking on Senior Night, the key for this matchup is to survive and advance.

Weeks 9-13

After the off week, the games down the stretch don’t become easier, but they don’t necessarily become harder. Syracuse’s remaining home battles feature two of the ACC’s worst last year in Boston College and Wake Forest. However, the Orange still face a slew of matches away from the Dome including trips to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and a technical “home” game against Pittsburgh at Yankee Stadium.

Week 9: at Virginia Tech (Oct. 26)

A Thursday night stand-alone game gives the upper hand to the VT faithful early, but this has potential to be a season make-or-break game for SU. With a Hokies squad as inexperienced as this one, capitalizing on the team’s mistakes on both sides of the ball could sway the tide in favor of the Orange. It’s not in any sense a gimme, but it’s certainly not unwinnable by any measure.

Week 10: vs. Boston College (Nov. 3)

Even if all goes wrong on Syracuse’s month-long road trip, SU can at least hold onto the Orange-Eagle Trophy another year after what may be the easiest conference opponent on the schedule. With Wide Reciever Zay Flowers onto the pro ranks with Baltimore, and a poor recruiting class coming in to replace his production, the ‘Cuse should give the Orange faithful something to cheer about under the Friday Night Lights.

Week 11: vs. Pittsburgh* (Nov. 11) (*at Yankee Stadium) 

At this point in the season, this could be a game Syracuse wishes it was playing in the Dome. Not just because of the turf conditions, but Coach Babers’ dreadful November record (currently 6-20). Pitt has taken the last five between SU, and although the Panthers will rely on different offensive weapons, the defense that held the Orange to nine points last year is still stronger than ever with a heavy presence of upperclassmen at the helm.

Week 12: at Georgia Tech (Nov. 18)

In the penultimate week of the season, the ‘Cuse travels to Atlanta against a Yellow Jackets squad who recently hired a new head coach after an underwhelming 5-7 record last season. With GT continuing to compete for important positions on offense two weeks out from the season, and a questionable defensive line, this has a good chance of being a peachy trip to Georgia for SU.

Week 13: vs. Wake Forest (Nov. 25)

Dino’s crew went on a five-game cold stretch in 2022. If Syracuse doesn’t win any of the tossups or upset anyone, this Senior Night finale could end up being the Orange’s best and maybe only chance at clinching a bowl berth. These two squads are likely to finish in similar spots in the overall standings, so the SU 12th man, the Dome crowd, could be the difference maker in sending the ‘Cuse and its seniors to a Week 14.

“[Our] schedule is no joke.” Coach Babers told ACC Network. “With the schedule that we've been dealt…if we win enough and we're in the final four, nobody should be crying that we shouldn't be there.”

Syracuse isn’t provided a cakewalk to back-to-back bowl appearances, but this schedule is sure to prove the Orange’s worth. With a bowl appearance or no bowl appearance, expect another roller coaster of a year. SU begins its quest to the postseason at 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 2 vs. Colgate. Listen to every single Orange football game all season long on 88.3 FM and

2023 Syracuse Football Preview Articles
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Special Teams
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Offensive Line
Defensive Backs