Pitt vs. Syracuse prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Panthers and Orange on Saturday in Pittsburgh, PA.
Pitt vs. Syracuse Game Preview
When: Saturday, Nov. 26 – 12:30 p.m. ET
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
TV Broadcast: ACC Network
The Panthers (7-4, 4-3 ACC) received a big day from star running back James Conner in an easy 56-14 win over Duke at home last Saturday. Conner had a pair of touchdowns that made him the leading career touchdown scorer in ACC history. It was a big win for Pat Narduzzi’s squad in the sense that it did not suffer a letdown following its big win over Clemson from the previous Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Orange (4-7, 2-5) are coming off of a 45-14 home setback to Florida State, as Dalvin Cook ran for 225 yards and four touchdowns to become the school’s career rushing leader. Cook broke Warrick Dunn’s 20-year-old school record for rushing (3,959) with a 41-yard gain in the first quarter. He is just the sixth player in ACC history to reach 4,000 yards.
In last year’s contest between these two teams in Syracuse, the Panthers used a fake punt (Ryan Winslow hit linebacker Matt Galambos for 12 yards and a first down) to set up a 25-yard field goal by Chris Blewitt on the final play for a 23-20 win. Quarterback Eric Dungey went 21 of 30 through the air for 210 yards and two scores, while Steve Ishmael had seven catches for a career-high 114 yards and one score for the Orange.
The Panthers have won 10 of their last 11 against the Orange, including all three meetings since the schools joined the ACC in 2013.
What To Know About Pitt
Conner now has 50 rushing touchdowns for his career, which breaks the previous ACC mark set by NC State’s Ted Brown between 1975 and 1978. He has a total of 53 touchdowns, which eclipsed the old league mark of 52 set by Wali Lundy of Virginia from 2002-05. Defensively, the Panthers have their issues, especially in the secondary. But it’s a defense that has taken advantage of other teams’ offensive mistakes lately. Last week against the Blue Devils, a fumble recovery by Galambos on Duke’s first play set up a touchdown, and Pitt later turned a fumbled Duke kickoff return into another score.
What to Know About Syracuse
One week after the Orange managed to gain only 218 total yards playing without sophomore quarterback Eric Dungey in a 35-20 home loss to NC State, Dino Babers and Co. were unable to get much going offensively again without their star quarterback. Dungey warmed up before the opening kickoff but did not play for the second straight game. The sophomore has been out since suffering a big hit to the shoulder/head area against Clemson two weeks ago. Backup Zack Mahoney went just 16 of 36 through the air for 196 yards with two touchdowns against two interceptions. FSU recorded eight sacks and forced 10 punts in limiting the Orange to 3.2 yards per play. It also outgained the Orange 654-233.
Offense: Pitt. The average total yards per game for these teams is almost the same, but the edge goes to Pitt because Dungey very well may be done for the season.
Defense: Pitt. A slight edge goes to the Panthers. Their pass defense is very porous, but the front is allowing only 98.1 yards per play on the ground.
Special Teams: Pitt. Quadree Henderson has four return scores this season and may indeed be the nation’s most explosive return specialist.
Coaching: Even. Babers and Narduzzi are the right head coaches at the right time for their respective teams.
Intangibles: Pitt. The Panthers have been playing very good football as we close out the regular season.
Matchup To Watch
Henderson vs. Brisly Estime
The Pitt return specialist can take it to the house whenever he gets his hands on the football. But Syracuse has an electric return man as well in Estime, whose punt returns are sometimes the best form of offense for the ‘Cuse.
Spread: Pitt -23.5
Over/Under: No Line (as of post)
Pitt vs. Syracuse Prediction
Babers said on Monday that Mahoney will most likely be the starter against the Panthers, additionally stating that there is “no update” on Dungey’s status. However, he likes to play coy when it comes to injuries. Nonetheless, the Panthers are clicking offensively and fighting through their defensive deficiencies, and they’ll do so again this week in a relatively easy win over the Orange.
Pitt vs. Syracuse Score Prediction: Pitt 40, Syracuse 23