After a loss to NC State in its ACC opener, Syracuse football returns to the Dome on Saturday afternoon for a showdown with perennial rival Pittsburgh. Both teams come into the contest sitting at 2-3 on the season and are seeking their first conference wins of 2017. If this year’s edition of the rivalry is anything like last year’s 76-61 shootout loss in the season finale, it should be a good one. With that in mind, here’s this week’s edition of three players to watch, Pitt Panthers style.
If I had been writing this a week ago, there’s no chance I would have included Browne as one of the guys to watch for Pitt. Simply put, through the first four weeks of the season, he just wasn’t very good. Once one of the top quarterback recruits in the class of 2013, Browne has ridden the mediocrity train throughout his career, first at USC and now at Pitt as a redshirt senior. Then, last week he exploded back on to the college football scene. The gunslinger threw for 410 yards and four touchdowns last weekend against Rice, both far and away career highs. Now, I know what you’re thinking, it was Rice, a team that, frankly, doesn’t hold and candle to any good ACC defense, and through the first couple of weeks, that’s exactly what SU has looked like. However, those are still wildly impressive numbers against any kind of defense and they represent a gigantic step in the right direction for Browne. Not to mention that he has an offensive coordinator’s dream frame for a quarterback standing at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds. When you combine that size, the immense amount of potential he showed in high school that could still be floating around, and the confidence he inevitably gained last week against Rice, Browne could be close to getting on the right track for the first time in his collegiate career and SU should at least be aware of that possibility.
Let’s move now to the man that most often lines up behind Browne when the Pitt offense is on the field. Ollison fills the slot as the Panthers’ #1 tailback, and he too had a very impressive high school career. Hailing from upstate New York (Niagara Falls to be exact) Ollison was the top-rated running back in the state and New York’s 5th overall prospect in the class of 2014. Now a redshirt junior, Ollison’s career started off with a bang in his redshirt freshman campaign when he took over the starting job after star back and cancer survivor James Conner injured his knee. He then went on to have one of the best freshman campaigns in school history becoming just the 5th Panther freshman to ever rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. Although his role diminished a bit last year because of Conner’s return, Ollison has still shown the ability to flash his big frame (6-2, 230) in the ground and pound style where he makes his living. Off to a tough start in 2017 (averaging just 11 yards over his last 3 games and just 47 on the season), this week’s game versus Syracuse could be his time to break out and get back to showing just how good he can be.
Have we found a new entry for the world-famous Orange Fizz spelling bee? You may not be able to say his name five times fast, but Oluwaseun Idowu, better known as Seun, (pronounced like Shawn) can certainly tackle you five times fast. The redshirt junior leads this year’s edition of the Panthers in tackles with 40 and in tackles for loss with 5. Adding in a quarterback hurry, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, Idowu simply flies all over the field. His best asset is his immense versatility. He played running back, wide receiver, linebacker, and defensive back in high school and still has the size, speed, and skill set to play both linebacker and defensive back at the collegiate level. Unlike Browne or Ollison, the high level of success that Idowu has had this season kind of came out of nowhere. He wasn’t very highly recruited coming out of West Allegheny High School in Pennsylvania and spent his first two seasons on campus as a walk-on before being awarded a scholarship spot before the 2016 campaign. Because of this Idowu is almost certainly still playing with a chip on his shoulder and that combined with his speed, athleticism, and versatility could present problems for what has been a seriously weak Syracuse offensive line this season.