Syracuse Orange
Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

For the first time in program history, Syracuse appeared in the College Football Playoff rankings, ranked 19th in 2018’s first edition.

Playoff madness has invaded the Carrier Dome, and it’s not even March.

The Syracuse Orange football team appeared in the first edition of the 2018 College Football Playoff rankings, slotted 19th in the poll released on Tuesday night.

The ranking marks the first time the Orange (6-2) have appeared in the annual rankings since they debuted in 2014.

The Orange’s 6-2 record, including a 3-2 posting in Atlantic Coast Conference play, matches their best effort through eight games since 2010. They reached the bowl eligibility plateau of six wins on Saturday night with a 51-41 victory over North Carolina State at home. In the win over the Wolfpack, who rank two spots behind the Orange in 21st in Tuesday’s release, the Orange tallied 561 yards of offense, including 411 through the air from quarterback Eric Dungey. The senior thrower leads the team in both passing and rushing yardage with respective tallies of 1,844 and 509.

Others who have stood out for the Orange in this historic season include defensive linemen and sack leaders Kendall Coleman (seven) and Alton Robinson (six), each ranking in the ACC’s top three in the category. Receivers Jamal Custis (672 yards), Sean Riley (488), and Nykeim Johnson (456) are all in the conference’s top ten in yardage, while freshman kicker Andre Szmyt has already set the program record for most field goals made in a single season (21).

The effort has been overseen by third-year head coach Dino Babers, whose first two campaigns ended in matching 4-8 marks. With six wins, however, Babers has guided the Orange to their first postseason berth since 2013, when a 6-6 squad defeated Minnesota in the Texas Bowl. Their eligibility also ends the second-longest bowl drought amongst Power Five conference teams, trailing only Kansas.

Other memorable showdowns so far this season include an early 30-7 win over Florida State on September 15 and a 40-37 double-overtime victory over North Carolina on October 20, each at home. The former victory was their first over the Seminoles since 1966.

The Orange’s two losses, both on the road, have been by a combined 11 points. They gave Clemson, three-time CFP participants and runners-up in Tuesday’s rankings, their closest competition in Death Valley so far this season in a narrow 27-23 defeat. Their ensuing loss in Pittsburgh a week later ended in a 44-37 overtime decision.

In addition to their appearance in the CFP rankings, the Orange also come in at 22nd in the Associated Press poll, appearing for the first time since 2001’s final standings.

If the Orange can survive a dangerous November docket, they should have no problem remaining in the CFP rankings. The month’s slate opens on Saturday, as they travel to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest (12:00 p.m. ET, ACC Network). Their home finale will come on a short week, as they take on Louisville in a nationally televised Friday night game on November 9. Should they defeat the Cardinals, Syracuse would finish undefeated at the Carrier Dome for the first time since 2001.

The Orange’s final two games will come against fellow CFP teams. They’ll first partake in a neutral site game against #4 Notre Dame on November 17 at Yankee Stadium, while the regular season concludes on November 24 at #22 Boston College.

Should the Orange miss out on the famed New Year’s Six, the ACC’s current bowl tie-ins include the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, the Music City Bowl in Nashville, and the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. A return to the Pinstripe Bowl, likewise held at Yankee Stadium, remains a possibility. Syracuse is currently 2-0 in The Bronx, winning the 2010 and 2012 editions of the game.

The Orange are one of five ACC teams ranked in the first CFP poll of the year. The current playoff field consists of ACC leader Clemson, as well as Alabama, LSU, and Notre Dame. This season’s semifinals will take place on December 29 at the Orange Bowl in Miami and the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, TX. The National Championship Game is set to be held on January 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.

For the full College Football Playoff rankings, click here.

Follow Geoff Magliocchetti on TWITTER