The Pittsburgh vs Syracuse will be the lone college football game on the Friday night schedule and will feature two Big East teams attempting to get an identity.
The Panthers started the season with two losses, to include an embarrassing loss to Youngstown State. All looked lost for the Panthers and so they changed their philosophy and focused on running the rock. The running attack duo of Ray Graham and freshman sensation Rushel Shell gave this team a new identity.
They used that formula to pull off the stunning upset against the Virginia Tech Hokies.The Panthers have also had great play under center. Quarterback Tino Sunseri has been a major catalyst during Pitt’s offensive surge. The senior has completed 71% of his passes for 627 yards and six touchdowns with only one interception the past two contests. He is the Big East’s most efficient passer (15th nationally) with an impressive 166.80 rating on the year. The Syracuse defense will have a big challenge on Friday night.
The Orange will have to plug up holes on defense if they have any hopes of beating the Panthers.
It is widely reported that stopping the off-tackle run has been an adventure for the Orange defense this season, which will enter the contest ranked No. 83 in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 176.25 yards per game. Lately, the team has turned more to junior-college transfer Zian Jones (6-foot-4, 309 pounds) to help plug the holes. Jones has joined sophomore Eric Crume in a rotation at tackle behind starters Jay Bromley and Deon Goggins.
Syracuse is young and is getting better, but right now Pitt is clicking on offense and will be impossible to stop. The Panthers produced a combined 1,163 yards in total offense against Virginia Tech and Gardner-Webb, an average of 581.5 yards per game.
The Orange are 1-4 against the spread (ATS) in their last five home games, 0-5 ATS in their last five conference games, and 1-8 ATS in the last nine games overall.
The Panthers are 8-1-1 ATS when playing a team with a losing record, 19-7 ATS in their last 26 conference games, and 19-6-1 ATS in their last 26 games in October.
The Panthers will steam roll Syracuse and expect a big blowout on ESPN on Friday night.
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