Anytime Syracuse plays Pittsburgh, it’s a big deal. With the longtime rivals facing on Saturday, here’s three statements the Orange would make by beating the Panthers.
1) Rivalry bragging rights
Basketball aside, these schools’ football programs aren’t too fond of each other either. Syracuse and Pittsburgh were Big East rivals for 21 years and have played a total of 72 times, first meeting in 1916. The all-time series is pretty close, with the Panthers narrowly getting the better of the Orange. Pitt has 38 wins to SU’s 31, and the teams have tied three times as well.
Pitt’s recent success against Syracuse has helped build its series lead. Looking at some of the more recent results, the Panthers have won 13 of the last 16 meetings. However, Syracuse beat the Panthers last year, and if history repeats itself, tides could soon turn.
Over the course of SU-Pitt history, both teams have been rather streaky. Prior to Pitt’s current run, Syracuse enjoyed some success of its own. From 1984 to 2001, the Orange beat the Panthers 16 of 18 times (and tied once). Sure enough, however, just before SU’s run of good fortune, Pitt took 13 of 15 from 1969 to 1983.
2) Winning on the road
Recent history would clearly indicate that the Orange is a different team on the road than it is at home. Despite playing tough at Clemson, SU is still 3-9 away from home in the Dino Babers era. When Syracuse beat Western Michigan in Kalamazoo to start the season, it was its first road win since Oct. 22, 2016.
The Orange wasn’t greeted kindly the last time it played at Heinz Field. Behind Nathan Peterman and James Connor, the Panthers shredded SU’s defense to the tune of 76 points on a whopping 10.9 yards per play. However, the Orange probably wouldn’t mind a similar output offensively this time around.
Pitt is last in the ACC in opponent yards per play, meaning big things may be in store for SU. The Panthers have also been exceptionally weak against the run this season, which should certainly have the Orange licking its chops.
3) Bouncing back from a loss
Syracuse is widely expected to win this game, and rightfully so. However, after losing for the first time all year, it will be crucial to see how this year’s team handles its first taste of adversity. Good teams bounce back, it’s as simple as that. This is a game the Orange should win, and will if it’s for real.