Syracuse Football: Athlon projects 'Cuse at No. 11 in ACC; I simply don't get that

A national media outlet is forecasting Syracuse football to finish at No. 11 in the ACC this coming season, and I disagree.
A national media outlet is forecasting Syracuse football to finish at No. 11 in the ACC this coming season, and I disagree. / Bryan Bennett/GettyImages

When it comes to Syracuse football and other Orange sports, I'm the first to admit that I'm a total homer.

I'm a proud graduate of Syracuse University from many moons ago. As often as I can, I try to be positive about 'Cuse sports. Some might say I have Orange-colored glasses on, and that's all good. I get it.

With that as a backdrop, as I'm seeing some preseason prognostications come in ahead of the 2024 campaign, and Syracuse football is projected to finish in the bottom-half of the Atlantic Coast Conference, to simply put it, I don't get that at all.

First and foremost, we all take these sorts of preseason forecasts with the proverbial grain of salt. And, yes, in recent years, the Orange program hasn't been all that good, although it has made two straight bowl games.

Additionally, I recognize that Syracuse football has a first-year, and a first-time, head coach in ace recruiter and former Georgia defensive backs coach Fran Brown, along with a lot of new assistants and a significantly overhauled roster for the upcoming 2024 season.

Some experts are giving Syracuse football unflattering forecasts for the coming stanza.

Yet the Orange's roster, to me, is filled with talent and promise, on both sides of the field. I believe that the offense, led by rising senior quarterback Kyle McCord, is going to prove excellent. If the offensive line holds up, McCord along with numerous stellar running backs, tight ends and wide receivers should do a lot of damage.

On defense, I think that the 'Cuse secondary will be fabulous. There are also strong players on the defensive line, at the edge, and at linebacker. By extension, I feel that the Syracuse football special-teams unit will be solid.

Package that all together, and coupled with a favorable schedule, I personally project the Orange to win at least nine games in the 2024 term. That, to me, suggests an ACC finish in the top six to the top eight, not the bottom-half.

Now, experts seem to largely agree that the 'Cuse is likely to make a bowl game for a third straight season. Is Syracuse football a dark-horse contender for the expanded 12-team College Football Playoff? Perhaps. We'll have to see about that.

Not too long ago, On3 national columnist Jesse Simonton placed the Orange at No. 10 in his preseason ACC power rankings, but he also said the team "could be a tough out" and may surprise some folks in 2024.

Recently, per an article from On3 writer Matt Connolly, Athlon Sports projected how the ACC race will pan out in the upcoming season. Here's the predicted order of finish:
1. Florida State
2. Clemson
3. Miami
4. Louisville
5. N.C. State
6. Virginia Tech
7. SMU
8. North Carolina
9. Georgia Tech
10. California
11. Syracuse
12. Boston College
13. Pittsburgh
14. Duke
15. Wake Forest
16. Virginia
17. Stanford

Connolly notes that Brown "has brought a ton of excitement" to the 'Cuse, which is true. The On3 writer mentions McCord and other quality transfers into the Syracuse football program, saying, "If the pieces come together, the Orange could be a surprise team in the league."

I believe that's also true. I also understand this sort of placement for the 'Cuse, given the new head coach, many new assistants, a re-shaped roster, and the team's track record in recent seasons.

Based on this and other preseason discussions, it does appear that FSU and Clemson could reside at the ACC's top. Louisville was great in 2023. Squads like Miami, N.C. State, Virginia Tech and SMU are getting some preseason buzz.

I get all of that. I know I'm a homer. All this preseason talk won't mean anything once the Orange has a chance to show its stuff on the field beginning in late August when the 'Cuse will host Ohio.

Perhaps these tempered expectations for Syracuse football are realistic. They're understandable. Okay, fine. I just don't agree with them.

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