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The Syracuse Orange only managed four wins in each of Dino Babers first two seasons overlooking the program. One of those wins in 2017 just so happened to come against the Clemson Tigers at home; a game they went off the board in as lofty 24-point underdogs at offshore sportsbooks. Though the team then went on to drop each of its final five games and only manage a pair of pointspread covers, coming together as a team through the ups and downs set the program up for success the following season. Is 10 wins and a dominating Camping World Bowl win over West Virginia a sign that Syracuse is to finally be taken seriously in the ACC, or did everything just fall into place for just one season? That’s what college football fans and bettors will be eager to discover in year four of the Babers regime.
Eric Dungey was the heart and soul of the offense a season ago. While his 2,868 passing yards, 754 rushing yards and 33 combined touchdowns will be tough to replace, that won’t stop Tommy DeVito from giving it the ‘ol college try. Syracuse had loads of success rushing the pigskin with Dungey one of the main reasons why. DeVito is more of a pocket-passer, so Babers and offensive coordinator Mike Lynch are said to have installed more plays that produce screens and dump-offs to take advantage of the Orange’s strength at receiver and in the backfield. Both starting tackles are no longer on the roster, so the ultimate success of this unit will depend on how quickly the new guys mesh along the front wall. Hopefully it all comes together quickly as electric incoming playmakers Trishton Jackson and Taj Harris look to be.
Cuse’s defense looks strong up front and in the secondary. Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman will anchor the defensive line looking to improve upon their double-digit sack tallies from a year ago, while reigning ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year Andre Cisco will be back to his sniping ways after leading the nation with seven interceptions. Senior’s Chris Fredrick and Evan Foster also return along with standout nickel/corner Trill Williams. There is some uncertainty at the linebacker position with the loss of a couple dependable seniors. Backing this unit up is arguably the nation’s best special teams. Lou Groza Award winner Andre Szmyt is back to handle field goals after converting 30-of-34, while Sterling Hofrichter was an All-ACC selection and one of the best punters in the nation. The speedy Sean Riley will once again handle return duties. This unit will have one week to get ready before the real fireworks start going off with Maryland and Clemson scheduled the second and third weeks of the season.
At this point of Babers’ tenure, the Syracuse Orange expect to be a force in the ACC and challenge for the championship as well as be a player in the College Football Playoff race. While those aspirations should come off the season the program just put forth, linemakers at top rated sportsbooks don’t look to be buying in. The Orange currently own a 7.5-game season win total which is 2.5-games off the pace of what was accrued just last season. Negative regression is expected. Even so, the Orange are likely to field a competitive team but it will all come down to whether they can defeat Clemson once again. They ousted the Tigers the last time Dabo’s kids paid the dome a visit, and would’ve pulled off a shocker in Death Valley last season had Travis Etienne not found the end zone in the game’s final minute. Clemson’s offense might be too tough to tame the third week of the season, but another solid effort that results in a bowl trip is still likely to occur when 2019-20 is said and done.