It’s year three of Dino Babers in Syracuse and so far nothing has changed. The Orange have posted back-to-back Four-win seasons with the lone positive being last year’s win over Clemson. OUtside of that, this team struggled to do anything in 2017, losing at home to Middle Tennessee, Wake and Boston College. The offense should be as good this season after racking up 456 yards per Game, but the defense is still a question. Because of that, Syracuse is projected to finish last in the ACC Atlantic again and had +60000 spring odds (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the National Championship. If you’re wondering, those are the same odds as teams like Florida Atlantic and Memphis.
Quarterback Eric Dungey is back for another season, but he’s dealt with injuries his entire career and missed spring after having foot surgery. He’ll enter the season as the starter after posting 14 TDs and 9 INTs through the air and then 595 yards and nine TDs on the ground. The good news for Syracuse is that it will have top recruit Tommy DeVito in the waiting if Dungey gets hurt again. The running Game should be better with all five starters on the line plus top backs Dontae Strickland (482 yards) and Moe Neal (488 yards). If they don’t surpass 4.0 yards per carry as a team, it’d be a disappointment. The top guys are gone at receiver, but this offense should be fine with a number of guys fighting for starting roles including Devin Butler, Nykeim Johnson and redshirt freshman Sharod Johnson. As long as nothing terrible happens at quarterback, this group should average close to 30 points per Game, if not more.
However, the defense could have a lot of issues once again after allowing 32.2 points per Game. They lost a lot on the back end, although the new guys can only improve from last year. Someone new has to step up at linebacker with the top two playmakers gone. There is experience on the line with Chris Slayton and Alton Robinson, but those guys have to do more for this defense to stop anyone. The secondary gave up close to 250 passing yards per contest in 2017, but top corner Chris Fredrick should improve after taking on a huge role and the same goes for safety Evan Foster. If any of these guys gets hurt, it could mean trouble for Syracuse, which has often been the case for this team. There is some talent in the lineup, but depth is lacking across the board.
To help in a quest for a bowl Game, the Orange have a more manageable Schedule in 2018. It’d be nice if they could win the opener at Western with two home Games against Wagner and UConn being close to must-wins. Otherwise, there will be plenty of home opportunities (UNC, Louisville) to rack up more wins. To reach a bowl, the Orange may need to win a Game or two on the road, likely at Pitt or BC. Syracuse is projected to finish last in the division again and there’s little reason to bet otherwise. This team may have a better offense, but the defense is still a huge question and if that doesn’t get solved, a bowl Game won’t be happening. Five wins is a good prediction, but if things work out for Dungey at quarterback, there is a possibility for six due to Schedule.
2018 Syracuse Orange Football Schedule
Aug. 31 at Western Michigan
Sept. 8 vs. Wagner
Sept. 15 vs. Florida State
Sept. 22 vs. Connecticut
Sept. 29 at Clemson
Oct. 6 at Pittsburgh
Oct. 20 vs. North Carolina
Oct. 27 vs. NC State
Nov. 3 at Wake Forest
Nov. 9 vs. Louisville
Nov. 17 vs. Notre Dame (Yankee Stadium, New York)
Nov. 24 at Boston College