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Syracuse showed some life last season, but that still only resulted in four wins and a number of blowouts from the 54-0 loss to Clemson to the ridiculous 76-61 loss in the finale against Pittsburgh. The Orange return most of their starters and that’s the main hope this team has at reaching a bowl game in Year 2 under Dino Babers.

And the route to getting six wins will happen because of quarterback Eric Dungey as long as he can stay healthy. Before getting hurt and missing most of the final four games of the year, Dungey threw for 15 TDs and 7 INTs to go with a 64.8% completion rate. Outside of losing top wide out Amba Etta-Tawo, the Orange still have Ervin Philips (822 yards, 6 TDs) and Steve Ishmael (559 yards) in the receiving game. Dontae Strickland returns in the backfield, but needs to do more than last season’s 566 yards and 3.5 yards per carry. The line has enough starters returning to make an improvement, so that will be the goal for the offense and in turn that’ll mean less turnovers and more points.

Of course, the defense is still a mess even with all of the returning players. They gave up 38.6 points per game a year ago, so adding another year of experience won’t exactly mean big improvement. Most of these guys put up big stats last year, mainly in the tackling department because they rarely got opposing offenses off the field. The start to success goes through senior linebackers Zaire Franklin and Parris Bennett, but outside of them, others need to step up. More help is needed with Chris Slayton on the line and someone else needed to pressure the quarterback. The secondary remains extremely young meaning there should be improvement from a group that gave up 276 passing yards per game.

But getting to six wins is still a long shot, especially playing in the Atlantic division and drawing Pitt and Miami out of the Coastal. While their first three non-conference games are winnable, nothing after that comes easy, starting with a trip to LSU. There are chances for a couple late-season ACC wins with Wake and Boston College coming to town, but finding more wins could be difficult with Pitt being the next easiest game.

The Orange are tied with three others with the worst odds to win the ACC (+10000 at 5Dimes Sportsbook) and no one will be taking that. Dungey should have the offense rolling, but even if the defense improves a bit, that still may not be enough to reach six wins. Syracuse can’t slip up in the early season and they’ll need to find three conference wins somewhere on the schedule, with one of those maybe having to come in an upset on the road.


2017 Syracuse Orange Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Central Connecticut State
Sept. 9 vs. Middle Tennessee
Sept. 16 vs. Central Michigan
Sept. 23 at LSU

Sept. 30 at NC State
Oct. 7 vs. Pittsburgh
Oct. 13 vs. Clemson
Oct. 21 at Miami (FL)

Nov. 4 at Florida State
Nov. 11 vs. Wake Forest
Nov. 18 at Louisville
Nov. 25 vs. Boston College

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