Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett led his team to a 31-14 win over Syracuse at the Carrier Dome on Saturday night, but he also treated the Pitt fanbase to two sights it had not seen in more than a decade. The first was a 10-win season, and the second was a signal-caller with 37 touchdown passes in a single season.
Pickett entered the game with 36 touchdown passes on the season, putting him in position to tie or pass Pitt great Dan Marino’s program-record of 37 touchdown passes set in 1981. With a 15-yard pass to Pitt running back Rodney Hammond halfway through the second quarter, Pickett matched Marino’s record. Just over two minutes later, he broke the record when he lofted a 25-yard pass into the arms of Pitt receiver Jordan Addison to put the Panthers up 14-7 on the Orange.
The super-senior signal-caller would continue to add to his total in the second half of the game, as he found Pitt tight end Gavin Bartholomew for a four-yard score less than five minutes after play resumed. And five minutes later, Pickett would link up with Addison once more for a five-yard touchdown pass that would make it 28-7 and put the game out of reach. The strike also gave Pickett whis 40th passing touchdown of 2021.
With the four touchdown tosses by Pickett, Pitt had more than enough points to leave Syracuse with a win, and ultimately it would, after Syracuse scored a second touchdown and Pitt kicker Sam Scarton made a field goal to make it 31-14. The win was Pitt’s 10th of the regular season, and Saturday marked the first time in 40 years that the program posted a double-figure win total before the postseason.
Thanks in large part to Pickett, Pitt now sits at 10-2 on the season and is ranked No. 17 in the country. And the team will take that record and put it on the line next Saturday, when it faces Wake Forest in the ACC championship game. That could lead to another piece of history for Pickett, as he could become the first Pitt quarterback to win an ACC title if he can outduel Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman and the Demon Deacons.