2018 Syracuse Orange Season Win Total Picks and Predictions for NCAA Football
2017 Record: 4-8
2018 Las Vegas Season Win Total: 5.5*
2018 Season Win Total Picks NCAA Football: 'Over'
It is just about time for Dino Babers to put up or shut up.
Full disclosure, I am a Syracuse graduate. So I know my team. And I like Babers. I feel that if he is given enough time that he will bring back excitement and competitiveness to what has become one of the worst programs in the country. But if he is going to do something, he needs to do it fast.
The Orange sprung the biggest upset in the country last year when they beat No. 2 Clemson 27-24 at home, on national television, as a 23-point underdog. But an embarrassing early-season loss to Middle Tennessee State and a late collapse after losing their starting quarterback conspired to keep the Orange from making their first bowl game since 2013.
If the Orange could just keep quarterback Eric Dungey upright then they would be dangerous. The problem is that Dungey, who plays with reckless abandon and who has dealt with multiple concussions, is never healthy for a full season. Dungey has missed at least three games in all three seasons he's been under center. And now, entering his fourth year as a starter, is Dungey's last chance.
Syracuse was No. 23 in the nation in total offense and No. 18 in passing yards. But they were horrendously inefficient, finishing just No. 75 in the country in scoring. They need to turn the ball over much less (No. 122 in the country) and need to be vastly improved in the red zone.
The Orange have major issues at two position groups: receiver and linebacker. On offense, they have to replace two wideouts that combined for 194 catches, 2,251 yards and 11 touchdowns. On defense, they are forced to go with three new starting linebackers on a defense that surrendered 444 yards per game.
If Syracuse can solve those two position issues, and if they can get 12 games out of Dungey, then they are capable of being a thorn in the side of anyone in the ACC. They have 14 returning starters overall, including eight on offense, and they picked up a key transfer in left tackle Koda Martin (Texas A&M).
SU faced the No. 2 most difficult schedule in the country last year. And they lost at LSU, at N.C. State, at Miami and at Florida State by an average of just one score per game. They were very competitive against some of the best teams in the country. But now they need to take the next step and convert more of those close games into wins.
Syracuse's schedule isn't much easier this year. They host Florida State, have to travel to Clemson, and they face Notre Dame in the Bronx in late November. But beyond that, I don't think the Orange will be more than a touchdown underdog in any game, and they should be plenty competitive.
Syracuse used to be one of the premier programs on the East Coast. But these last 15 years have been an embarrassment. I think that they are on an upward trajectory, and I do think that Babers will get them to just their sixth bowl game this century. The Orange can't give away any games in the nonconference this season. But if they go 3-1 against non-league opponents then I think they will absolutely find three wins in ACC play and they should sneak 'over'.
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