As of Thursday, Pitt heads into their contest with Syracuse on Saturday as a seven-point favorite over the Orange. The Panthers will be playing their first game as a ranked team since week one of 2010. The Orange come reeling into this game with a three game losing streak, including a triple overtime loss to Virginia last week.
Pitt and Syracuse have played every single year since 1955, that's pretty long standing rivalry that not a lot of people talk about much. The Panthers have owned the Orange of late, having won 12 of the lat 14 meetings. Pitt handled Syracuse last year by a score of 30-7. Pitt's last trip to the Carrier Dome resulted in a Pitt 14-13 victory, with the tying extra point being blocked by none other than Aaron Donald.
So in a sense, Syracuse would love to even things out with Pitt's recent run of success. This may not be an over-hyped rivalry, it's still a long-standing game with two teams that are familiar with one another. I mean after all, Pat Narduzzi nearly killed Scott Shafer not too long ago, so there's plenty of built-in 'hate' for this meeting.
As for the game itself, it's pretty clear Pitt is the better team right now. The Panthers are 5-1 and leading the ACC Coastal. The Panthers have a stifling defense, and an offense that is coming on strong of late. And perhaps Pitt's biggest distinguishing factor is the excellent, Tyler Boyd. Pitt just seems to have an edge on all fronts. Syracuse, though, is not as bad as their record indicates. They actually hung with LSU for a good part of the game, and their game last week could have gone either way. The Orange boast a fairly strong defensive line, and they should give Pitt's running attack some trouble.
With seven points, I think that's a number Pitt can cover. The Panthers have yet to play a complete game, and I think this could be the week. I think the defense should be able to bounce back after dealing with the triple option last week. The offense seems to be gaining momentum under Nathan Peterman, and of course the team is obviously feeling an extra boost by getting ranked this week. On the other hand, Pitt has not handled a team yet. They play well enough to win, but make a mistake of two that keeps the other team in the game. Pitt is doing the little things right, but still have not found that killer instinct to put away a game. The Carrier Dome always can present a challenge, and of course there may not be a team in the country more familiar with Pitt than the Orange.
How do you think this one plays out on Saturday?