Syracuse will try to become bowl eligible when they host Pitt on Saturday. Here’s a quick look at the game:
DONALD AMONG ELITE: In the second half of the season, Syracuse has developed an offensive philosophy that is predicated on a tough, physical running game. Running backs Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, and quarterback Terrel Hunt have led SU to average 196.7 yards per game on the ground, ranking 37th in Division I football. SU’s ability to pound the football will be tested against Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who was named a finalist for the Lombardi Award for college football’s best lineman or linebacker. Donald’s 28½ career sacks top active players in the FBS and this season, he’s tallied 22½ tackles for losses and 10 sacks.
SCOUTING THE PANTHERS: Syracuse fans should know Pittsburgh starting quarterback Tom Savage well. The redshirt senior has thrown for 2335 yards and 18 touchdowns this season, but SU has faced Savage before when he was the starting QB for Rutgers in the 2009 season. In a 31-13 victory, the Orange sacked Savage nine times in then-defensive coordinator Scott Shafer’s first season with Syracuse. Since then, Savage had a stint at Arizona (where he didn’t play) before transferring a second time, earning the starting job at Pitt. Savage leans heavily on his two top receivers, Devin Street and Tyler Boyd, who have combined for 1,668 yards and 13 touchdowns.
HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: The Panthers hold the lead in the all-time series, 34-31-3. The last time these two teams met was on Oct. 5, 2012, with the Orange edging the Panthers, 14-13. Syracuse’s defense starred in this game, sacking quarterback Tino Sunseri five times for 51 yards while containing running back Ray Graham, who had just 57 yards on 24 carries.The win also broke a seven game losing streak to Pitt.
GAME INFORMATION: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. at the Carrier Dome. TV: ACC Network.