Syracuse will close the 2021 regular season in search of bowl eligibility against No. 17 Pitt on Saturday.
- Teams: Syracuse Orange (5-6, 2-5 ACC) v. Pittsburgh Panthers (9-2, 6-1)
- Date: Saturday, November 27
- Game Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- Venue: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
- Network: ACC Network
- Spread: Pitt -13
Fearless Prediction: Pitt 38, Syracuse 14
(The Juice Online’s Season Record: 9-2)
The Panthers are looking to secure their first 10-win season since 2009 and only their second since 1981. Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison are in contention for major awards. Solid performances are needed to make those dreams come true.
Those are the major storylines heading into this game but they are far from the only ones, and honestly they might be secondary to the elephant in the room: Can Syracuse obtain bowl eligibility on Saturday?
Both teams have made major strides this year. Pitt has found their groove under Pat Narduzzi and Syracuse has found their offensive identity under Babers. The rushing attack and defense have stepped up in a major way giving the Orange the opportunity to find that elusive sixth win.
The style of each offense feeds in to the strength of each defense. The Panthers defense is built to stop the run first and foremost over everything else. They have strong defensive backs that play man coverage and dare you to beat them. That is not the style of this Syracuse team. Garrett Shrader and Sean Tucker will run, run, run, and then run some more with the pass being a back up plan. Every team has tried to stop this attack but Syracuse has been able to still run the ball in spite of these attempts to stop them.
The Syracuse defence features 3 down linemen with 8 men off the ball. This makes it much more difficult to pass the ball at will and allows the defense to bring pressure from a variety of spots, confusing QBs who then force bad throws. Couple a strong defense with an offense that runs the clock down and you have a recipe for winning football.
The edge in this game goes to the Panthers though and their Heisman candidate quarterback. Pickett is excellent at avoiding pressure and finding the open man, a strength that is going to come in to play a lot in this game saturday. The Panthers’ offense will be able to weather the storm of the Syracuse defense by taking what the defense gives them. They have a capable rushing attack and an explosive passing game with a QB that can avoid pressure.
The Syracuse rushing attack has faced some stiff competition and still prevailed. Clemson tried to stop Tucker and was unsuccessful. However, the last two games have been lopsided losses where they were held under 200 and 300 yards of offense, respectively.
In order to win this game, Shrader is going to need to pass the ball well – something he hasn’t done much this year and not in the last two games. Look for the Panthers to replicate what Louisville and NC State found to be successful.