With the season opener versus Rhode Island only a few days away, fan optimism is at an all-time high for the new year. In that spirit of optimism I present to you my personal best case scenario for the 2014-2015 season.
Rhode Island: The boys come out pumped for the start of a new season and officially put last year’s injury riddled train wreck in the rear view mirror for good. Even though Syracuse comes out with a vanilla offense it is more than enough to overrun the Rams and put the game out of reach by half time. In the second half some of the younger guys get some in-game experience and Rhode Island scores late to keep it from being a total beatdown.
Wake Forest: In a battle of what many are expecting to be two of the bottom teams in the ACC, Wake comes to play in the conference opener and makes it tough on the OrangeA late TD drive capped off by a short pass from Hunt to Custis on the fade seals the deal, and Shafer gets the last word at the postgame presser.
Central Michigan: In week three the Orange host the return game of a home and home with the Chippawes of Central Michigan. Looking to build on a solid start to the season the offense replicates last seasons efforts to put the game away early, but the D shows its inexperience and allows a couple CMU touchdowns late.
LSU: Looking to start the season 4-0 for the first time since 1991 all eyes are on the Carrier Dome when Syracuse hosts the Bayou Bengals and in front of what should be a raucous crowd. The team takes the field with nothing but victory on their minds and play their hearts out to go into half tied. Unfortunately the young Orange secondary gets burned for a long touchdown to make it a two score game late and crush the dreams of Orange fans everywhere.
@USF: The Orange head down south to take on a USF team that must make every game count this season. After going a dismal 6-18 during the first two years of Coach Taggart’s tenure, which includes an embarrassing 32 point home loss to FCS McNeese State in 2013, the Bulls may very well be playing for their coach’s job this season. The defense starts to round into form and forces a key turnover late that puts Syracuse in position to deliver the knockout blow.
@Virginia: Playing one of the hardest non-conference schedules in the nation, the Wahoos record shouldn’t be an indicator of what type of team the Cavaliers have this season. With his success on the recruiting trail, the time is now for Mike London to get to a bowl game this season otherwise he may be out of a job sooner than he would like. To the dismay of Coach London and Virginia fans everywhere Syracuse sneaks out a sloppy yet satisfying road win in their first game against the Cavs since joining the ACC.
Pittsburgh: Syracuse makes their debut in the Top 25 after two hard fought road wins and returns to Syracuse for homecoming against a well known foe in Pitt under first time head coach Pat Narduzzi. The Panthers have some talented playmakers, but Syracuse is riding high and is able to match them score for score before Brisley Estime returns a punt to the house to put Syracuse on top for good.
@Florida State: Syracuse and their fans return to reality after a near perfect start to the season when they travel to the Orange capital of the country. Although the Seminoles lost 12 players to the draft last year they are still a powerhouse and handles the Orange with relative ease.
@Louisville: The Orange look to rebound after the beat down they received at the hands of FSU with their second road game in as many weeks. Coach Petrino has the Cardinals ready however and in a war of a game end up handing Syracuse their second straight loss and knocks the Orange back out of the Top 25.
Clemson: Looking to prove that the first half of a season wasn’t a fluke the Orange face a very good Clemson team that has playoff aspirations. The Tiger’s season rests on the shoulders of star quarterback Deshaun Watson, who may be the best player in college football this season if he can stay on the field. In his year and a half at Clemson, the sophomore has been injured on four separate occasions and has struggled to stay healthy for the Tigers. This fact has Clemson fans worried about the season with no proven backup to Watson. In addition to all that Clemson will be playing for the seventh straight week without a bye and it all adds up to a dramatic win in the Carrier Dome for the Orange that puts them right back in the Top 25.
@North Carolina State: As the season begins to wind down the Orange head down to Raleigh looking for vengeance after a close loss last season all but ended the season last year. As if this team needed anymore motivation this game will mark the first time the Orange play against former offensive coordinator George McDonald, who took the wide receiver coaching position for the Wolfpack
Boston College: In a matchup that has the makings of a rivalry for years to come the Orange finish the regular season against fellow northeastern school Boston College. The Eagles lost a lot to graduation last season on the offensive side of the ball and should take a pretty big step back without an established QB for the first time in a few years. The Orange control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and have just enough to win their third straight one score game.
Final Analysis: Not many people believe the Orange are much more than a bottom feeder this season, but with a new system on offense under Tim Lester and the guidance of a senior quarterback Terrel Hunt, the Orange sneak up on more than a few teams early on while the defense gains experience and gets to the level we have all come to expect out of a Scott Shafer led ball club. The 9-3 Orange head back to Florida for the third time to play in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, where they earn their first 10 win season since 2001 and begin their rise back to prominence.