Countdown to Camp 2017

Countdown to Camp: Syracuse football owns one of the nation’s toughest schedules

Daily Orange File Photo

Defending national champion Clemson visits the Carrier Dome Oct. 13, three weeks after Syracuse travels to LSU.

Syracuse football’s training camp begins July 30. Every day leading up and into camp, The Daily Orange’s football beat writers will take a look at some of the upcoming season’s most pressing storylines, players and position battles. Read more on the Countdown to Camp here.


If you want upsets, Syracuse football will have plenty of opportunities to satisfy this upcoming season.

While there is no official metric to determine strength of schedule before the season begins, the Orange’s 2017 campaign is considered by multiple experts to be one of the most challenging of any team’s in the country. SU will travel roughly 4,500 miles in five road contests, one to the notoriously tough Tiger Stadium for LSU. After Week 1, every team the Orange faces will be coming off a season in which it eclipsed SU’s four-win mark and played in a bowl game. In the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic Division, there will be no easy weeks.

Syracuse Football’s 2017 schedule:

Friday, Sept. 1: Central Connecticut State (2016 record: 2-9)

Saturday, Sept. 9: Middle Tennessee (8-5)

Saturday, Sept. 16: Central Michigan (6-7)

Saturday, Sept. 23: @ Louisiana State (8-4)

Saturday, Sept. 30: @ North Carolina State* (7-6)

Saturday, Oct. 7: Pittsburgh* (8-5)

Friday Oct. 13: Clemson* (14-1)

Saturday, Oct 21: @ Miami* (9-4)

Saturday, Nov. 4: @ Florida State* (10-3)

Saturday, Nov. 11: Wake Forest* (7-6)

Saturday, Nov. 19: @ Louisville* (9-4)

Saturday, Nov. 26: Boston College* (7-6)

* = ACC game

Let’s set aside the season opener against Central Connecticut State. The Blue Devils went 2-9 last season in the FCS’s Northeast Conference. CCSU’s only wins came against Bowie State and Sacred Heart. Syracuse, literally, does not play at the same level as those teams.

From there, things get tougher. Week 2’s opponent, Middle Tennessee State, won eight games and went to the Hawaii bowl last season. Central Michigan will visit SU in Week 3; the Orange narrowly escaped the Chippewas in overtime two seasons ago. The competition will then elevate significantly.

LSU is a powerhouse program and leaving the 100,000-plus capacity stadium of Death Valley with a win would mean more to Syracuse than just one more in 2017’s win column. The Orange fell, 34-24, to LSU when the Tigers came to the Dome in 2015, even without starting quarterback Eric Dungey, who was out with an injury. Ed Orgeron, a former Syracuse assistant, is in his first full season as head coach after having the interim tag removed late last season. Teams change, but it’s worth noting that last year’s Citrus Bowl, the Tigers didn’t allow a single touchdown to Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville, a team that scored three touchdowns in its first five plays from scrimmage against Syracuse.

Then comes conference play. The Atlantic Division contains three possible preseason top-10 teams in Clemson, Florida State and Louisville. Syracuse has won five ACC games in the past three seasons combined. The road to bowl eligibility runs through a reversal of that trend.


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