No. 17 Pittsburgh will be looking to close out the regular season with another win before playing in the ACC title game next week. The Panthers are no longer in contention for the College Football Playoff, but they are on a three-game winning streak. Syracuse has lost five of its last seven games and needs a victory to become bowl eligible.
Pickett leads high-scoring Pitt offensePittsburgh will be disappointed to not get a chance to play in the College Football Playoff, but it has still been a very successful season. The Panthers have already clinched their division in the ACC and are on a three-game winning streak since losing to Miami at the end of October. They have notched wins over Duke, North Carolina and Virginia in their three games since then, covering the spread in two of those victories. Pittsburgh has been favored in every game this season and that is not going to change on Saturday night.
The Panthers are led by an offense that ranks second in the country, averaging 529.1 yards per game. Quarterback Kenny Pickett has completed 67.1% of his passes for 3,857 yards and 36 touchdowns. He has a shot at getting an invite to the Heisman Trophy ceremony, so he will be looking to stat-pad against Syracuse in this game. The Orange have been a strong defensive team, ranked No. 23 in yards allowed per game (330.1). Wide receiver Jordan Addison has been Pittsburgh’s top wideout, catching 74 passes for 1,272 yards and 15 touchdowns. Wideout Jared Wayne has caught 41 passes for 594 yards. Running back Israel Abanikanda has rushed for 580 yards and five touchdowns on 109 carries.
Tucker paces Syracuse rushing attackSyracuse got off to a 3-1 start this season, picking up wins over Ohio and Liberty along the way. The Orange lost their first three conference games in disappointing fashion. They fell to Florida State, Wake Forest and Clemson by a combined nine points before picking up wins over Virginia Tech and Boston College. Syracuse comes into this game fresh off its worst two losses of the season, getting blown out by Louisville and No. 20 North Carolina State. The Orange had covered the spread in seven consecutive games prior to those two outings.
They have not been as good offensively as defensively, ranked No. 89 in yards per game (377.8). Sophomore quarterback Garrett Schrader has completed 50.5% of his passes for 1,228 yards and seven touchdowns. He went just 8 of 20 for 63 yards and an interception against NC State last week. Shrader has not thrown for more than 100 yards since Oct. 23. The offense relies almost entirely upon freshman running back Sean Tucker, who has rushed 233 times for 1,467 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has been one of the most impressive freshmen in college football, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Tucker had 13 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown against the Wolfpack last week.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Syracuse has decent season-long numbers, but I think the last two performances need to be more heavily weighted. The Orange have looked abysmal in two straight games, and I could see that bleeding over into the finale. They have had a frustrating season—if Pittsburgh can take an early lead, it could completely kill any motivation that Syracuse has. The Panthers have covered the spread in nine of their last 12 games and have covered in five straight road games. They are not a team that I want to fade in this spot.
Full-Game Total Pick
These teams are trending in completely opposite directions as far as the total is concerned. Syracuse has a strong defense and a fading offense, while Pittsburgh has one of the top offenses in college football. It is tough to take the under after predicting a Pittsburgh blowout, but I think that is the play in this game. Syracuse has not thrown for more than 100 yards in three consecutive games, leaning almost entirely on its rushing attack. This speeds up the clock and leads to low-scoring games. The total has gone under in seven of the last nine head-to-head meetings between these teams.