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Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh: Crystal Ball Predictions

Jaron (1-0): Pittsburgh 27, Syracuse 13

When Syracuse and Pittsburgh get together it is always a close game. Six of the last eight meetings between the two teams finished within a touchdown or less. This year, however, things are different. The Syracuse offensive line looked terrible against North Carolina, which had a trickle down effect and impacted the running and passing game. That offensive line is going to be tested again with an even better defensive line. Pitt has arguably the best D-line in the entire ACC, led by Patrick Jones II who was named to the Preseason All-ACC Team. So that is problem No. 1. Problem No. 2 is the offensive play calling. I don’t understand what was going through Sterlin Gilbert and Dino Babers’ heads because their decision making against UNC was atrocious. If that continues against Pitt, it’s going to be a longggg game. Problem No. 3 is Kenny Pickett. The Panthers’ quarterback is a three-year starter and has experience playing against the Orange. The new 3-3-5 scheme will be different, but he is a very high IQ player. I think Syracuse finally gets its first touchdown of the season, but they won’t get much more. Give me Pittsburgh in this one.

Thomas (1-0): Pittsburgh 24, Syracuse 10

Maybe I’m not yet bullish on Pitt’s offense. But I do like what we saw from Syracuse’s defense last week. And while 10 points isn’t much, it’s more than SU scored against a worse defense last Saturday. But the biggest issue for the Orange were missed chances against UNC. Against the Panthers, there will be fewer opportunities, but Syracuse will find the end zone for the first time this year. Granted, I think it’s just as likely a touchdown comes from a pick-six or a special teams play, than from this offense. Even without defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman, Pitt has one of the best defenses in the country. Last season, that D-line sacked Tommy DeVito and Clayton Welch nine times. Expect more of the same on Saturday.

Ian (1-0): Pittsburgh 27, Syracuse 13

When Pitt controls the ball, the X-factor is Kenny Pickett’s legs. The senior quarterback is already a prolific passer, and he showed some open-field elusiveness against Austin Peay last week. Syracuse’s 3-3-5 defense proved extremely effective (for 36 minutes) in week one, and the Orange are talented enough to stifle another good offense this Saturday. However, the defense is going to spend a ton of time on the field because the SU offensive line can’t stop the Panther pass rush. Not only are Pitt’s lineman some of the best in the ACC, blitz wizard Pat Narduzzi and staff are sure to take advantage of Jawhar Jordan’s inexperience in pass protection. Syracuse has to use misdirection and screen plays effectively. It’ll be closer than last week, but viewers might have deja vu as SU puts up a fight for three quarters, then folds in the fourth. Even though SU didn’t cover last week, Pitt is way overvalued as a 21.5 point favorite.

John (1-0): Pittsburgh 27, Syracuse 16

The line is way too inflated for this game. -22, are you kidding me?! Anyways, Pitt has dominated the series since 2013, and has won 8 straight at Heinz Field. That remains unchanged after Saturday. Syracuse keeps it close but once again runs out of gas in the final quarter due to a lack of consistency on offense. Taj Harris and Anthony Queeley have solid days, but SU has no run game outside of Tommy Devito scrambles. The offensive line fails to block in the pass and run, and Pitt’s vaunted D-line has a field day. DeVito will also lose his mark of 201 straight completions without an interception when Paris Ford picks him off. But overall, another spirited performance, and a hard-fought loss against quality competition. 

Brad (1-0): Pittsburgh 30, Syracuse 10

There are two overarching questions heading into this matchup. The first, was the 3-3-5 defense successful last week against No. 18 North Carolina because of a lack of film and the element of surprise, or because it was legitimately effective against a strong offense? I think it was the former. Pittsburgh Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple should be able to pick the scheme apart with budding senior quarterback Kenny Pickett. The second, how will Syracuse score? Without a run game behind an offensive line whose week 1 problems persist, the answer is they won’t. The Orange will have a tough time scoring enough to win conference games regularly, and this week against the best defensive line in the conference is no exception. 

Matt (1-0): Pittsburgh 39, Syracuse 7

Last week the offensive line had a tough time protecting the Tommy DeVito. Don’t expect that to change this week. Pitt flaunts a ridiculously good defense that allowed only one rushing yard to Austin Peay last week, obviously not a powerhouse victory but impressive nonetheless. Patrick jones and Paris Ford will hold down the fort on defense for the Panthers, while Kenny Pickett directs the Syracuse defense. Things don’t look great for the Orange this week.

Gill (1-0): Pittsburgh 28, Syracuse 10

I feel like I wrote this exact prediction last year, but I don’t know what else to do other than repeat myself. Pat Narduzzi’s blitz-happy defense is the worst matchup Syracuse can ask for. And no, it’s not because of the offensive line. It’s the quarterback.

Tommy DeVito’s decision making has to be faster. When plays are allowed to develop, the Jersey gunslinger can make plays, but recognizing the blitz and hitting the hot route? Forget about it. This has been a problem for a long time, yet DeVito isn’t making any apparent progress in this area. He needs to identify the blitz and get rid of the ball quickly and effectively. I’m also concerned about young running backs Jawhar Jordan and Markenzy Pierre, because the onus will be on them to call out blocking schemes and aid in pass protection.

Harrison (1-0): Pittsburgh 27, Syracuse 13

As Syracuse hits the road for the second straight week, it’s possible that Pitt could be feeling themselves after an easy 55-point win over Austin Peay. Regardless of whether or not the Panthers come out a bit too confident, it’s hard to see them beating SU on Saturday by 50-plus points. For the Orange, a huge question will obviously be how it will fair against a Pitt defense — fresh off a shutout — that was close to the top of the ACC in several statistical categories. All in all, it’s hard to say Syracuse walks out with an upset on the road here. However, the hope is they’ll at least keep it close.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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