It's from last season, but it's just as solid this year.
Syracuse is now 1-3 on the season. They are coming off a bye week to play a big game on Friday night to open their last Big East slate. The big question is which Pittsburgh team will show up? Oh, and what Syracuse team will show up too.
Syracuse gets back OL stud Justin Pugh. But the offensive line has been fairly solid without him. The added time may give Syracuse the chance to throw a couple more deep passes a game but that's about the best case out of his return. The problem with Syracuse's offense has been red zone production and play calling. Syracuse has had a nice bye week to fix those things. So has Pittsburgh. Syracuse can practice all they want, but Syracuse fans have learned the hard way that just one little mistake makes the game almost out of reach for Syracuse after that. Limiting turnovers has been a problem for Syracuse the last couple of games. Syracuse's defense will play tough, but tackling has been a problem for the Orange. The question is can Syracuse stop the run and tackle in open space enough to put the game on Tino Sunseri's shoulders. If Syracuse forces him to be the playmaker Syracuse could put themselves in a perfect position to steal a game and get back on track. Tackling has been a point of emphasis on the bye so Syracuse should look more confident in tackling in the open field, and should be tougher in the box. While all of this sounds good, and should put Syracuse into a better position, I'm going to simply pick history on this one. The last time Syracuse beat Pittsburgh Nancy Cantor got inaugurated the day before and it took 2 OTs to do it. Additionally, this is "Family" Weekend (formally Parents Weekend but I assume someone without a Dad got upset and complained), which means no student section to say, and it means a lame and fairly quiet Dome. Now, that's not to say the hometown heros will not be yelling loudly, but you will notice the absence of a pile of students yelling. Either way, no real big homefield advantage. However, Syracuse tends to play well on Friday nights. I think this game will be close, but I'm picking Pittsburgh to beat the Orange 27 to 24.
This game will be nationally broadcast on ESPN in stunning HD at 7:00pm tonight. It will also be available on ESPN 3. John will be tailgating all afternoon and will be in the Dome. I'll be tweeting from the Home Office, so chime in and enjoy your viewing. Hopefully we can celebrate or commiserate together.