Syracuse will host Pitt on Saturday at the Carrier Dome. Ahead of the game, we got some predictions.
Brad Bierman: There’s a couple of differences as this year’s incarnations of the Syracuse and Pittsburgh football teams meet Saturday in the Dome, as opposed to last year’s regular season finale when the teams combined to set a regular season FBS scoring record of 137 points in Pitt’s wild 76-61 win at Heinz Field.
This is week six of the current regular season with both teams 2-3, 0-1 and still lunging for the post season as they complete 50% of the schedule with this game, and there’s different personnel on both rosters, highlighted by the quarterbacks who did not play last November, SU’s running-passing threat Eric Dungey, and the Panthers Max Browne, a grad transfer from Southern Cal.
We all know Dungey is SU’s leading rusher as that part of the offense has struggled to develop when Dungey has handed off the ball to someone else, while he’s been primarily connecting with Steve Ishmael and Erv Phillips with passes of all ranges short and long, forming the top receiving duo statistically among FBS schools.
Browne just so happens to be this week’s ACC offensive back of the week following his 410 yards and four touchdowns passing performance in a 42-10 rout of Rice, missing on only five of his 32 attempts, seemingly finally getting in the groove of running his new team.
There won’t be anything like last year’s points explosion this time around, but Dungey and company will push the petal down hard in playing to the “Faster” tempo to avoid a slow start, with the goal of eventually tiring the Pitt defense. The Orange “D” will have enough stops when needed, ending in a rare recent program win over Pitt (1-9 in the last nine meetings) by a final score of 38-30.
Geoff Johnson, master of NCAA odds and author to this guide for betting on college football gave some predictions for this weekend:
Pitt is having disappointing 2017, losing all three games against Power 5 opponents by a combined 75 points and needing overtime to get past Youngstown State. Syracuse has been mostly impressive, losing a puzzler of a game to Middle Tennessee but keeping LSU and NC State honest and blowing out both of its other opponents.
Most years (i.e. when there’s no Donovan McNabb on the Syracuse roster), Pitt would be favored at home against the Orange. But with their disappointing play so far, they sit as 4.5-point home dogs and you have to pencil this in as another Syracuse W, likely similar to the Georgia Tech game that Pitt lost 35-17.