FACTS & STATS: Site: Heinz Field (65,050) — Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Syracuse 1-6, Pittsburgh 2-4. Away Record:
Syracuse 2-1, Pittsburgh 2-2. Neutral Record: Syracuse 0-0, Pittsburgh 0-0.
Conference Record: Syracuse 1-5, Pittsburgh 2-4. Series Record: Pittsburgh
GAME NOTES: With each team trying to put a stop to three-game losing streaks,
the Syracuse Orange will travel to face the Pittsburgh Panthers in an Atlantic
Coast Conference battle at Heinz Field on Saturday.
Syracuse has dropped three straight contests and seven of its last eight
altogether, including its most recent meeting with Duke, 27-10, back on Nov.
8. The Orange are coming off an open week, and have two games remaining on
Pittsburgh has also dropped three consecutive games, with a 40-35 back-and-
forth battle with ACC opponent North Carolina being the most recent. At Heinz
Field this season, the Panthers are just 2-4.
Pittsburgh still holds a slim all-time lead over Syracuse, 35-31-3, in the
all-time series between the sides. The Panthers squeaked out a 17-16 victory
over the Orange last November on the road.
Neither Duke nor Syracuse could get much going offensively in the Orange’s
most recent contest, but it was quarterback Mitch Kimball who scored
Syracuse’s lone touchdown. Kimble has played in two games for the Orange this
season, and has thrown for just 37 yards with zero touchdowns under center.
Austin Wilson got the majority of the reps under center in the loss to Duke,
and has thrown for 246 yards with three interceptions in four games played.
This is in replacement for the injured Terrel Hunt, who had just shy of
1,000 passing yards and a team-high six rushing touchdowns before getting
In 10 games, it’s been Prince-Tyson Gulley who has led the team in rushing
with 568 yards, but has just one rushing touchdown to his name. In fact, only
Hunt has more than one rushing score this season for the Orange, who average
157.4 rushing ypg this season. Syracuse is scoring just 19.1 ppg in those 10
Jarrod West leads Syracuse in receiving with 44 catches for 655 yards, but has
yet to find the end zone. Steve Ishmael’s three receiving scores this season
is a team best, and like Hunt, Ishmael is the only Syracuse player to have
more than one score in a particular category.
The defense for the Orange this season has been at times inconsistent, but
going against some of the top programs in the country will yield such results.
Actually, Syracuse has held tough offensive teams like Clemson (16 points),
Duke (27 points) and Louisville (28 points) to under 30 points. It’s been the
offense that has failed to keep pace.
The Orange allow opponents to score 23.4 ppg, and gain 344.3 offensive ypg,
which aren’t bad totals by any means. Cameron Lynch has recorded a team-high
78 tackles this season – 24 more than the next closest player. He’s added 9.5
tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks with three pass breakups to his impressive
resume. The Syracuse defensive line will have a tough time limiting
Pittsburgh running back James Conner.
Conner returned to his productive self against North Carolina last weekend in
his team’s loss. The huge sophomore back rumbled for 220 yards and four
touchdowns, helping his Panthers gain 305 total rushing yards in the contest.
Pitt averages 253.4 rushing ypg this season behind Conner’s 156.2 ypg. The
back has gained 1,562 yards on the ground (third in the FBS) and has scored 21
touchdowns (also third in the FBS). The Panthers are a run-heavy offense, and
will continue to pound the ball against Syracuse.
Chad Voytik hasn’t had to do much this season while Conner steals the show.
Voytik has passed for 1,688 yards and 12 touchdowns against six interceptions
in 10 games, completing 61.8 percent of his passes. As the game manager and
signal caller, Voytik does have a large hand in his team scoring 31.5 ppg this
Tyler Boyd is Voytik’s favorite target, with 57 catches on the year for 951
yards and six scores – by far the most on his team. His 95.1 receiving ypg is
a team high, and is more than 70 ypg more than the next closest receiving
In the last three games, Pittsburgh’s defense has really struggled to contain
any opponent. The Panthers surrendered 56 points in a loss to Georgia Tech,
then gave up 51 to Duke in an overtime loss. The most recent loss to UNC (40
points allowed) proved to be the fewest points surrendered by Pitt since an
Oct. 16 win against Virginia Tech.
Todd Thomas leads Pittsburgh’s defense with 64 tackles, adding in 5.5 tackles
for loss, an interception and a pass breakup. The Panthers haven’t been very
successful getting into opposing backfields and bringing down the quarterback,
having registered only 16 sacks this season (led by Rori Blair’s four sacks).
The Panthers have eight interceptions and a mere three fumble recoveries in 10
games, giving the team a total of 11 takeaways (tied for 109th in the FBS this
Pittsburgh should be able to gain a turnover or two against a Syracuse offense
that has been dismal recently. The Orange don’t have much offensively that can
be considered game changing, while Conner for Pittsburgh is one of the best
running backs in the nation. He’ll get plenty of carries this weekend, and
should be able to plow over the Orange with relative ease.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pittsburgh 34, Syracuse 14