A quick take on Syracuse’s disappointing 27-20 loss to Pitt on Friday night at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: Up 10-6 midway through the second quarter, Pitt took control of the game thanks to a pair of touchdowns with under five minutes left. AJ Davis’s five-yard run with 4:53 left put the Panthers up 17-6. Maurice Ffrench followed that with a 14-yard reception with 23 seconds left in the half to give Pitt a 24-6 lead. The Orange would cut the lead to seven with 2:44 to go after Aaron Hackett’s seven-yard reception, and appeared to have a shot to tie the game after defensive lineman KJ Ruff forced and recovered a fumble. But the officials overturned the call with seemingly no indisputable evidence and Pitt ran out the clock.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse’s bowl hopes took a major hit with the loss. With five games left in the season, there’s little margin for error, and SU’s schedule only gets more difficult. The Orange is on the road next at Florida State and still has road games at Duke and Louisville. With the way the offense has been playing, and injuries mounting in the defensive secondary and to quarterback Tommy DeVito, it’s becoming harder to project three wins in SU’s remaining schedule. It is perhaps college football’s most disappointing storyline of the season. In the preseason, some prognosticators had the Orange playing in a New Year’s Six Game and Syracuse opened the season inside the top 25. But SU has wildly disappointed, and seven games into the season, SU doesn’t have a conference win, or for that matter, a win over a Power 5 team.
HERO: Kenny Pickett managed the game well, throwing for 232 yards and two touchdowns, and perhaps more importantly, no interceptions. Davis rushed for 103 yards while Ffrench finished with 92 yards and a touchdown. For SU, Clayton Welsh came in to relieve DeVito, and played admirably, throwing for two touchdowns and was actually SU’s rushing leader at 36 yards.
ZERO: Syracuse’s offensive line was much maligned heading into Friday, and they did nothing to change that trend. Nine sacks and generally porous blocking led to another sluggish offensive performance. DeVito was ineffective when he was in the game, completing only 11 of his 23 passes for 101 yards before he was knocked out in the second half on a scramble. The rushing attack was anemic as well, combining for just 51 yards.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse travels to Florida State to play the Seminoles next Saturday at 3:30 p.m.