4. Syracuse Orange
Syracuse shocked Clemson last season, and lost five straight to close the season to go 4-8.
The 2016 Orange had a decent offense, and they went 4-8. The 2015 team had an even stronger O, and it went 4-8. The program had four straight seasons with four wins or fewer, and has been to just three bowl games since 2004.
This year’s team has hit the 4-0 mark, and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down.
Any team that knows how to put on pads could hang a big number on Western Michigan this year and beat Wagner and UConn, but the Florida State win was the big one. The Noles might not be the Noles of the past, but to come up with a 30-7 win was still a moment for head coach Dino Babers.
And now, with the ACC looking so shaky, there’s an honest shot at making a whole lot of noise.
First, the Orange have to deal with the revenge game against Clemson on the road – getting hit with the first start of the Trevor Lawrence era – but they’re good enough to win at Pitt, and they’re certainly strong enough to beat North Carolina, Wake Forest and Louisville.
The defense is better, but it’s not a rock, and the offense isn’t quite as amazing as it was over the past few seasons, but going bowling, being competitive, and becoming a relevant program again is the big step needed under Babers.