Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#311 Pittsburgh -3.5 vs.
#312 Syracuse 51
Friday, October 18, 2019 at 7:00pm EDT
Carrier Dome, Syracuse
Written by Chris Kubala

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#311 University of Pittsburgh
#312 Syracuse University
4-2
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25
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25

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It’s a battle of teams from the ACC Atlantic Division up in upstate New York. The Pitt Panthers are on the road as they make the short trip to face the Syracuse Orange on Friday night. Pitt comes in off a 33-30 win on the road over Duke Saturday in their previous contest. Syracuse was knocked off 16-10 on the road by NC State in their previous game last Thursday. The Panthers lead the all-time series 39-32-3 and have taken five of the last six meetings: that includes a 44-37 home win in the last matchup on October 6, 2018.

Pitt Panthers Look to Earn Sixth Win in Last Seven Meetings vs. Orange

Pitt started the game strong against Duke and nearly let it slip away before rallying in the final minute to earn a victory. The Panthers led 26-3 with under three minutes to go in the third quarter before seeing Duke reel off 27 unanswered points. Pitt scored the winning touchdown with 38 seconds to play as they covered 82 yards in four plays. The Panthers outgained the Blue Devils 337-288 in the contest, held a 22-20 advantage in first downs and a slim 30:11 to 29:49 margin in time of possession. In a sloppy game, Pitt turned the ball over four times but forced six Duke turnovers, including a pick-six, to earn the victory.

The Panthers are 33rd in the nation in passing offense as they average 276.7 yards per game this season while the team is 113th in the country in rushing offense by averaging 116.5 yards per contest. Pitt is 107th in the FBS in scoring offense with 21.5 points per contest and rank 43rd in scoring defense by allowing 22.5 points per contest. Kenny Pickett is 136 of 224 passing for 1,370 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions while adding 66 yards on the ground. Nick Patti is 25 of 40 passing for 287 yards with three touchdowns and one interception while Aaron Matthews completed his lone attempt for a three-yard touchdown. Todd Sibley Jr. leads the team with 44 carries for 192 yards while A.J. Davis adds 42 carries for 184 yards and two scores. Vincent Davis (23 carries, 96 yards, two TD) and V’Lique Carter (35 carries, 93 yards) have seen their share of work as well. Maurice Ffrench leads the Panthers with 50 catches for 396 yards and two scores. Taysir Mack (41 receptions, 511 yards, two TD) and Davis (12 grabs, 179 yards) are secondary options in the passing game. Alex Kessman is 15 of 16 on extra points and six of 12 on field goal tries with a long of 43.

Syracuse Orange Trying to Bounce Back

Syracuse had their chances but ended up on the short end of their game against NC State on the road last week. The Orange now tries to pick up their first conference win of the season here. Syracuse trailed 16-0 late in the third quarter before closing to within 16-10: they reached the NC State 39-yard line in the final seconds before penalties and sacks killed the drive. The Orange was edged 364-341 in total offense: both teams finished with 21 first downs while Syracuse held a slim 30:18 to 29:42 edge in time of possession. Syracuse forced the lone turnover in the game but gave up eight sacks offensively.

The Orange is 51st in the nation in passing offense as they pick up 257.5 yards per game through the air while ranking 109th in rushing offense by picking up 119.8 yards per game. Syracuse is 91st in the FBS in scoring offense as they put up 25.5 points per contest while the team is 63rd in scoring defense by allowing 26 points per contest. Tommy DeVito is 135 of 206 passing for 1,534 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions while adding 58 yards and a score on the ground. Clayton Welch is four of eight for nine yards. Moe Neal is the team’s leading ground gainer with 80 carries for 348 yards and three scores this season. Abdul Adams is the second back in the system as he has 56 carries for 210 yards with two scores while Jarveon Howard has 28 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown. Trishton Jackson leads the team with 33 receptions for 499 yards plus six touchdowns on the year. Sean Riley (22 catches, 169 yards, TD), Neal (20 receptions, 207 yards) and Taj Harris (18 grabs, 306 yards, TD) are solid targets as well. Andre Smzyt is 18 of 19 on extra points and six of seven on field goal tries with a long of 45 this season. Sterling Hofrichter has not attempted an extra point and hit his lone field goal attempt from 52 yards.

"That's going to be the fun part," said Syracuse head coach Dino Babers. "We're 3-3. We're not where we want to be. We're not happy where we're at. Now what? Again, that's what's going to define this season. Define this team. Define this bunch of seniors. I'm excited about that. I'm not happy about how things have gone. But now that all that stuff is behind us, and there's no more rose colored glasses here, this is what we are, it's game six. Now, get better."

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Both teams have had issues at times this season. Pitt has struggled mightily in the kicking game and they turned the ball over four times in the win over Duke. The Panthers don’t run the ball all that well, averaging 3.4 yards per carry on the season. Pitt’s last three wins have come by combined seven points and that includes a game against FCS program Delaware. Syracuse struggled on the road against NC State but they do have an effective quarterback in DeVito. It’s important to note that while Pitt had six takeaways against Duke, that’s the deviation from the norm: they had only TWO in the first five games combined. Playing at home, in a dome, the weather isn’t a factor, which inhibits Pitt’s chances of getting takeaways thanks to a slick ball. Take Syracuse at home here.

Prediction: Syracuse Orange +3.5

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Pitt picked up a win over Duke but the fact that they blew a 23-point lead and had to score the winning touchdown in the final minute despite forcing six turnovers has to be concerning. The Panthers have played four straight games decided by seven points or less and has to consider themselves fortunate to have three wins in that stretch. Syracuse was blown out twice, won back to back games and then fell by six to NC State. The Orange return home for this one and they look to try and get back on track. Can Syracuse deal Pitt a taste of their own medicine with a narrow victory?

The under is 12-2 in the Panthers' last 14 road games, 5-1-1 in their last 7 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game, 4-1 in their last 5 games following a straight up win and 4-1 in their last five after an ATS win. Syracuse has seen the under go 5-0-1 in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a winning road record, 4-1 in their last 5 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game and 20-6-1 in their last 27 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game. The under is 4-0 in the last four meetings in Syracuse: look for this one to end up a couple of points under the total as the weather factor being neutralized should cut down on turnovers to set up short fields.

Prediction: Under 52
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.