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Pittsburgh - Syracuse Quick Predictions

We welcome back an old frienemy.
Syracuse is at an interesting position no only in their season, but in the broader sense of the program. It's year 2 of Dino Babers' tenure, and it's the midpoint of the season. This is specifically when Dino himself points to where the system he uses fires on all cylinders and is really the point where everyone grasps what they are supposed to be doing within that system. However, that also might not be the case when facing the hardest schedule in the nation while also possessing not the greatest defense. It's Homecoming, which makes it even harder as a lot of alumni eyes will be on this team this weekend in person and up close. So what can Babers and his team do this weekend to convince the faithful that this is the direction we want the program going in? The simple answer is win.
Pittsburgh comes into the Carrier Dome with the exact same record as Syracuse. Unlike Syracuse, they have beaten who they were supposed to (Rice, 1-AA Youngstown State), and lost to big boys #4 Penn State, #9 Oklahoma State, and Georgia Tech. Their QB play has been unimpressive, with their starting QB, transfer Max Browne has started but rarely finished games. He didn't throw a TD in any of the Pitt losses. Ben DiNucci, Redshirt Freshman QB replaced him in all of those games. The pressure will be on Syracuse's safeties to break up passes and prevent big plays. Really, not allowing Pittsburgh big plays will be key. If Syracuse is able to apply pressure and keep Pittsburgh from establishing a run game, Syracuse should have a good chance to win this game. After the shootout last season, it seems unlikely that Pittsburgh has the firepower to put up those numbers. Bur really, Syracuse still has most of the offensive pieces from last year's team that put up 61 points last year. If Syracuse is able to run the ball and get some pressure off of Eric Dungey to work in the pocket, Syracuse should have a really nice day on offense. Syracuse is somehow favored in this game. And on paper, you can see why. Pittsburgh hasn't had much success on offense this year, except against Rice. Syracuse is poised to pick up a win this weekend in front of a fairly big home crowd. I'm taking the Orange 41 to 30.
This game is available regionally on the ACC Network at 12:30pm. Check your local listings here. For those in areas it isn't on TV, you can catch the game on WatchESPN. I'll be in the Dome this weekend, while John will be at a wedding. An odd reversal from the usual. Either way, I'll have coverage from the Dome. Check the Tweets. If you're making the trip, enjoy Homecoming. GO ORANGE!

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