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Syracuse Football: ESPN Football Power Index paints bleak picture for SU

Syracuse football (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images)
Syracuse football (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Preseason College Football Power Index (FPI) has debuted, and it paints a bleak picture for the bowl game prospects of Syracuse football in 2022.

FPI rates Syracuse as the 63rd best team in the index, projecting a win-loss total of 4.8 wins and 7.2 losses. Though this is a middling ranking, the projections around wins and losses are what should cause Syracuse fans serious concern for the 2022 season. They rate Syracuse as having the 102nd best chance of reaching the 6-win mark required to reach a bowl game, a mark which many expect will be necessary for Dino Babers to retain his job as head coach.

The biggest reason for the disparity between ranking and the likelihood to reach six wins is the incredible strength of this schedule, a strength which is reflected heavily in the FPI preseason ranking. Syracuse’s schedule includes the following teams, with corresponding rankings:

Louisville: 36th
@ UConn: 130th
Purdue: 44th
Virginia: 54th
Wagner: Unranked (FCS opponent)
NC State: 26th
@ Clemson: 4th
Notre Dame: 5th
@ Pittsburgh: 9th
Florida State: 31st
@ Wake Forest: 30th
@ Boston College: 59th

Syracuse football has a fairly low ranking in the preseason FPI.

The first thing you notice in looking at this schedule and rankings is that, in a head-to-head matchup, FPI projects that the Orange is ranked higher than only two of these teams (UConn and Wagner). Even more disturbingly, only two other teams (54th ranked Virginia and 59th ranked Boston College) are within 10 spots of Syracuse in the FPI ranking, with only one additional team (Purdue) within 20 spots of Syracuse.

This means that Syracuse will have seven games against teams with an FPI ranking of 36 or higher, including three teams in the top 10. Those three top-10 opponents (Clemson, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh) will come in three consecutive weeks, with 26th ranked NC State being the game before that stretch and 31st & 30th ranked Florida State and Wake Forest being the two games following it.

This six-game gauntlet will be a deeply challenging stretch and underscores the necessity of a good start to the season. Two of Syracuse’s first five opponents are ranked below them in FPI, with two others ranked within 20 spots and the season opener against the 7th best team (or the team who would theoretically be the “bubble” team for win #6) on the schedule in Louisville. These first five games will determine what sort of season unfolds.

In the opinion of this author, the team will need to go at least 4-1 in the first 5 games to have a serious chance at hitting the 6-6 mark necessary for a bowl game. A start of 3-2 or worse, when staring down the gauntlet of facing several top 10 teams and potentially as many as a half dozen top 25 teams, makes that prospect far more challenging.

One thing is for sure: If Syracuse football does make a bowl game this year, they will have earned it against an excellent schedule full of high-quality opponents.

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