Hello old friend. Wait... this isn't a basketball game!
Time to open up another football season at Syracuse. Students started class this week, and college football has returned. Expectations are high in Central New York. Syracuse needs to start their season off right, as a nightmare October looms.
Syracuse takes on a familiar team in the Villanova Wildcats. Former fellow members of the Big East in basketball, these teams have decided to play each other on the gridiron. 'Nova is an FCS team, but a pretty good 1-AA team at that. Villanova won the National Championship in 2009 and have been fairly good since. However, they have failed to make the playoffs since 2012. That being said, they're picked to finish second in their conference, and are looking to put together a nice season, having almost all of their successful players from last year back. This game will probably come down to quarterback play. Terrel Hunt was named the starter in camp (no surprise) and will start the year out behind center, looking to build on the momentum from last year's Bowl winning campaign. Villanova will start John Robertson, who was the key to any success Villanova had last year. He's become a pretty serious passing threat, however questions remain if his offensive line can protect him enough or give him enough time to throw the ball. My gut says that the front defensive line will stop any Villanova rush attack and force Robertson to do most, if not all of the heavy lifting on offense for the Wildcats. But with the run stopped, and Coach Shafer's inclination to blitz and blitz again with a heavy pass rush, I think Robertson is going to have a pretty difficult start, middle, and probably end to his day. Quick side note: Villanova has a player named Poppy Livers. True story! I don't think Syracuse blows Villanova out of the Dome, but I do think they'll have enough of a win to declare that the season is off to a promising start. I'll take Syracuse over Villanova 41 to 17.
Syracuse plays tonight at 7:30pm eastern, and the game will be available nationally on ESPN 3 / WatchESPN. The game will be broadcast on TV locally in Upstate NY if you have the correct TV package, but my guess is the broadcast will be letterboxed and look like crap. You're better putting ESPN 3 up on your TV if you can. John is in the Dome and I'll be in the home office watching. Say hi. You know how to do that.
Sorry I didn't take time to use the new ACC logo.
Summer is over, I guess. That’s means Orange::44 is back for another year BABY! And so is the Syracuse football team. We crank up another year with our now traditional football preview where John and I go game by game say if we think Syracuse is going to win. It’s fun for everyone. Read on, intrepid viewer.
Brian’s Season Preview
Last year Syracuse went back to a Bowl Game by the skin of their teeth. Scott Shafer was new to the helm of Syracuse after Doug Marrone left for the NFL and left the Orange with basically the only option to promote from within. Ryan Nassib also graduated leaving a brand new starting QB leading this team in a new league. Now Hunt has settled into the starting role and Syracuse has improved in almost all areas. They will have a ridiculous stable of running backs, and now Scott Shafer is more comfortable with the main headset on. This should be a year of improvement in the win/loss columns.
Syracuse vs. Villanova: Villanova is an FCS team. It’s the season opener on a Friday night for Syracuse so I like their chances. Not much X’s and O’s analysis needed for this one.
Syracuse @ Central Michigan: This game is on my wedding day. They better win. I’ll be doing my best to not get in trouble with the Mrs. while sneaking views on my phone. But unless Central Michigan became far better than they were last year, Syracuse should win this game, even though it’s on the road. Plus they have an early bye week the week before so they will have plenty of time to gameplan for this one.
Syracuse vs. Maryland: Syracuse beat Maryland at Maryland last season. Now not only did Maryland jump ship for the Big (16) Ten, but Randy Edsall is still the coach. Syracuse fans in the Dome will be loud and hateful. I don’t think Maryland can pull off the stunner and silence the Dome crowd. Syracuse won’t kill them, but they’ll win by enough where people will say “hmmmmm, not bad”.
Syracuse vs. Notre Dame (at MetLife Stadium): I want to say Syracuse will win this one. But I think the only team that outdraws Syracuse in New York would probably be Notre Dame (no, it isn’t you Penn State or Rutgers). Notre Dame, despite all the scandal and coasting to the title game a few years ago, is still a big brand (for some stupid reason). They’ll have the crowd on their side. But mostly, they’ll just have a little more talent on the field. An upset is possible, but I think Syracuse will fall short.
Syracuse vs. Louisville: New league, new coach, new team. Gone is Teddy Bridgewater and Charlie Strong. Back is Bobby Petrino. A proven cheater and liar in real life, he has proven to be a good football coach. Syracuse upset #9 Louisville two years ago when they played in the Dome. Can Syracuse pull off another upset? With L’ville key injuries it seems more likely now. I originally picked this game a loss, but now I’m switching and saying Syracuse is winning this one. Welcome to the Jungle Louisville.
Syracuse vs. Florida State: This is Syracuse’s Homecoming game. This is a game Syracuse will not win.
Syracuse @ Wake Forest: This team also has a new coach. Wake Forest is probably going to end up in a battle for last place in their division (probably with NC State again). I think they had 400 people at their spring game. I think we can safely say Wake Forest is a basketball school again, and even that team isn’t that great.
Syracuse @ Clemson: Syracuse heads to Death Valley for the first time. Tajh Boyd is off in the NFL but they will have someone at least capable at QB. I don’t think Syracuse pulls the stunner and shocks the locals. Syracuse is a few years away from that. But they certainly give a competitive first half and Dabo and Scott will have a nice hug even though Dabo will probably go for 2.
Syracuse vs. NC State: Syracuse took out NC State last season by running the ball. Syracuse will do the same this year, also while adding touchdowns through the air. Hello bowl eligibility.
Syracuse vs. Duke: Who saw Duke coming last year? I didn’t. They lost some big key pieces of last year’s run to the ACC title game, but they have enough to get the job done still. And at this point in the year, Syracuse is due for a let down anyway. And I’d rather have it happen against higher ranked (probably at this point) Duke than the following week at Pittsburgh.
Syracuse @ Pittsburgh: I don’t even remember the last time Syracuse beat Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. It’s been forever. It probably hasn’t even happened since I was attending Syracuse. The last two outings versus Pittsburgh, both in Pitt and the Dome, were dreadful. This year, Syracuse turns it around and puts it all together. They come out with a road win at Pittsburgh.
Syracuse @ Boston College: I’m going to this game and I live in Boston (actually I live in Chelsea but that’s just like Boston College saying they are in Boston when they are actually in Chestnut Hill / Newton) so they better win. And I think they will. This will be another close game like last year in the Dome where it took a last second drive and touchdown to not only win the game, but propel Syracuse to the post-season. While Syracuse shouldn’t need this game to get to a Bowl Game this year, it will still come down to the wire and I like Syracuse’s chances to again beat BC. Because BC sucks and always will.
So there you have it. I’m picking Syracuse going 8-5 and heading back to another Bowl Game. It looks like John and I agree. That can only mean either we’re both right, or Syracuse is losing ten games. Hopefully it is the first choice. Either way, it should be a year of very watchable football, far removed from anything on the field you perhaps glanced at between 2005 and 2009.
John’s Season Preview
Welcome to my third annual game by game preview for Orange::44. I've actually had surprisingly good foresight the last two years, particularly last year getting everything but the last two regular season games correct. I'm good at bullshitting, which I guess is why I'm a good lawyer. That, and that top-notch SU College of Law education! At any rate, here's the Official JBren Picks for 2014:
Syracuse vs. Villanova: By most accounts, the Wildcats are one of the best teams in the Football Championship Division. In fact, that is what prompted their plan to move up to FBS to move into the Big East to save the conference. Um, yeah. That worked out. I think this is a great game for Syracuse to begin the season, kind of ease into things. I call an easy win for the Orange.
Syracuse @ Central Michigan: Game 2 falls on Week 3 of the football season. That Week 2 bye is gonna be a hell of a momentum killer. And to complicate matters, this game falls on Brian's wedding day, so our ability to watch it will be hampered. The game's a nooner and the ceremony's at 2:00, so WatchESPN will only get us so far. I see some Matrimony Magic and see another Orange victory.
Syracuse vs. Maryland: Non-conference match-up. The Terps have left the friendly confines of the ACC for the wretched wasteland of the Big Ten. I normally wouldn't say that, but this league also thought it smart to invite Rutgers, so. Anyway. Randy Edsall had better luck against Syracuse with UConn. The Dome crowd won't care which squad he's coaching, the hate will be all the same. And the result will be the same as last year: Syracuse wins.
Syracuse vs. Notre Dame (at MetLife Stadium): I'll be making the trip down to East Rutherford because SU SUckered me into buying the 2-game package when I bought the Penn State tickets last year. But that's fine, because playing Notre Dame is always fun. Especially this Notre Dame team, ripe with academic fraud. These seem to be two programs going in opposite directions, so unless Syracuse gets cocky, I think another victory is at hand.
Syracuse vs. Louisville: Welcome to the ACC, Cardinals! Now, you're familiar with Syracuse, and you're also familiar with the Carrier Dome. But you don't know what it's like to play Syracuse in the Carrier Dome on a Friday night. That doesn't matter, because you're probably gonna win. You don't know how much I want to pick Syracuse to win this, but I just can't. Even with the recent news that DeVante Parker will probably still be out for this game with a foot injury.
Syracuse vs. Florida State: If I'm right, Syracuse enters this game 4-1. If my heart wins out over my gut on the Louisville game, the Orange are a perfect 5-0 playing the defending National Champions. Either way, leave it to Syracuse to spoil its own Homecoming, because that's what we do. A win over the Seminoles just isn't gonna happen, folks.
Syracuse @ Wake Forest: I'm just spitballing here, but I don't think Wake's going to be any good this year. I'm basing this on absolutely nothing. I lie. They're gonna be terrible. Everybody else thinks so too. So this would be an epic loss for Syracuse. But we don't live in that world. Another Orange win in the Tar Heel state.
Syracuse @ Clemson: This seems like a good game for "Two lies and a truth" (because that's how I want to play it). Terrel Hunt throws for four touchdowns. Dabo Swinney punches Scott Shafer in the face. Clemson beats Syracuse.
Syracuse vs. NC State: News alert: I'm not going to a home game in the Dome. I know, I know. I made it down to Raleigh for this game last year, so cut me some slack. Besides, I'll be in Eugene to see Stanford at Oregon which, come on, will probably be a more exciting game than this. That said, I think the Wolfpack finds a way to lose to the Orange again, just like last year. Hashtag #bowleligible. I hope I'll be able to catch this on WatchESPN while I'm tailgating outside Autzen Stadium with a mascot based on Donald Duck while wearing a bunch of crazy, overpriced Nike apparel.
Syracuse vs. Duke: I'm gonna be all sorts of jet-lagged for this game. Duke football? This is a thing? Evidently, yeah. The Blue Devils will be coming off a trip to Pittsburgh, and Syracuse gets the advantage of playing at home. For that reason, I slightly favor the Orange, but this is just as much a toss-up in my mind as the Louisville game.
Syracuse @ Pittsburgh: The past two seasons, Pitt has played at the Carrier Dome. An unintended consequence of conference realignment, I suppose. Brian and I actually saw the last, miserable game Syracuse played at Heinz Field. I distinctly remember how disgusted I felt walking away from watching a team that had essentially given up. This year will be different, though. Syracuse will be coming off a much-needed bye week, and is a much better squad than that 2011 team. And then somehow, the Panthers will win. Sorry.
Syracuse @ Boston College: Hello, annual rivalry game to end the regular season! How's it going? Thanks, I'm good too. Instead of Black Friday shopping (ha, as if I ever do that) I'll be trekking from Elmira to Boston so that I can go to Chestnut Hill and tailgate in a parking garage. It'll be like 2004 Diamond Ferry all over again! Syracuse won that game, and Syracuse will win this game. That's just how the pumpkin pie crumbles.
Coach Shafer says 8 wins. John Brennan says 8 wins. I don't know if his considers a bowl victory or is just regular season. Either way, I'm seeing this as a successful football season, and definitely one that makes the ACC and hopefully the rest of the country respect Syracuse football again.
So there you have it. Both of us pick an 8-4 season for the Orange. We differ on the wins, but we agree on the result. John will be in the Dome on Friday. I'll be in the home office. We'll both be watching. We're back for the year and it feels great. Stay tuned for all the usual previews and recaps for each game as well. Of course you can always get John and I on Twitter as well.