Looking to post back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in a decade, Syracuse kicks off its 2023 campaign Saturday with a home matchup against FCS foe Colgate.
The Orange went 7-6 a season ago, falling to Minnesota 28-20 in the Pinstripe Bowl. They have not played in a bowl game in back-to-back years since 2012 and 2013 — the last time the program finished above .500 in consecutive years.
This year’s squad once again will be led by coach Dino Babers (entering his eighth season at Syracuse) and senior quarterback Garrett Shrader (entering his third year as a starter). Shrader passed for 2,640 yards and 17 touchdowns last year while contributing 444 yards and nine scores on the ground.
Despite the overall youth for the Orange, who have only seven players in their final year of eligibility, Babers feels good about his squad entering the season.
“It’s a quality group,” Babers said. “The teams that go very far are the teams that are player led, not coaching led. Those guys are leaders. Everything that they’ve done on and off the field since the end of the 2022 bowl game has been exactly that. I think the team did a fine job picking out people that maybe aren’t the most popular — but definitely the people that you want to follow.”
Colgate is coming off a 3-8 campaign in which the team allowed 88 points in its last two games. On the bright side, the Raiders’ top three rushers from a season ago are back in the fold, including quarterback Michael Brescia.
“These games are dangerous games,” Babers said. “I’ve been on the other end of these football games. I’ve been 21-point dogs and we’ve beat the team by 21. It’s one of those things where the kids are excited, you guys are excited. I’m sitting here, I’m not excited at all, I’m worried.”
When asked at the Patriot League Football Media Day about facing Syracuse followed by Villanova, Colgate head coach Stan Dakosty said, “We go into those games with the same mindset as every other game. We’re going to line up, fight, and play competitive football.”
“We’re going to play against a lot of great teams,” he continued. “There are never any cupcakes on our schedule, but that’s who we are. I list every game with the same sense that the opponent’s going to be as difficult as the next.”
That said, Syracuse has won 16 straight matchups with Colgate and hasn’t lost to the Raiders since 1950. The Orange also are 20-0 against FCS opponents since the two divisions separated in 1978.
–Field Level Media