PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 23: Tino Sunseri #12 of the Pittsburgh Panthers drops back to pass in front of teammate Dion Lewis #28 (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Well, Pitt's got a fairly decent test coming up on Saturday. It's funny - when the Big East schedule came out, it really looked backloaded. At UCONN, at South Florida, home against West Virginia, and at Cincinnati was supposed to define Pitt's season. Now, as Bob Smizik puts it,if Pitt loses Saturday to a 4-1 Syracuse team, the season is all but lost. As I mentioned in my Q&A with Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, it's clearly Big East or bust.
So with a hot start and a fairly decent conference team coming in, you'd figure it would be a well-attended game, right? Well, expectations are a bit down. Trust me, though, Pitt's had their share of ticket sales problems so I'm the last person who would call out another team.
Even though Dave Wannstedt is undefeated against Syracuse, this Orange team has a different feel. It's true, they haven't beaten anyone of consequence, but then again, neither has Pitt.
Pitt is going to face a pretty good quarterback in Ryan Nassib. Nassib is a bit like Tino Sunseri in that he doesn't make many mistakes (only two interceptions). The difference comes in that he makes more plays, as evidenced by his ten touchdown passes. Pitt also will have to deal with a two-headed running back system in Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey. Unlike Pitt's however, Carter is clearly the number one back and gets many more carries.
On the defensive side of the ball, Syracuse is gaining a reputation - and fast. The team is already up to 15th in the nation in total defense, giving up less than 300 total yards per game and they're even better in scoring defense, at 11th (allowing 14.8 points per game).
My prediction? I think Pitt has more talent and I expect them to come out guns blazing. Syracuse will be pumped up, but I think the Orange win over South Florida last week will actually be in Pitt's favor. If they had any thoughts about overlooking Syracuse before, those should go out the window. If Pitt loses, I don't think it will be because they didn't take Syracuse seriously - I think it will be because Syracuse is a better team.
The talk about this game is that it's going to be physicaland points will be hard to come by. I may be completely wrong on this, but I think Pitt will actually do a little bit of scoring. The offense has gotten into the red zone, but just hasn't converted enough. I won't be surprised if Syracuse beats Pitt - I just don't see it.
PItt 24 - Syracuse 17