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Syracuse slumped to a 31-6 defeat against then-No. 18 North Carolina in its season-opener Sept. 12. But the Orange’s next opponent, No. 25 Pittsburgh, cruised past Austin Peay 55-0 in its first game.
Here’s what our beat writers think will happen Saturday at Pitt:
Anthony Dabbundo (1-0 straight up, 1-0 against the spread)
Pittsburgh 35, Syracuse 10
Syracuse’s offense Sept. 12 was even worse than I originally thought after rewatching the condensed game film and examining some advanced analytics. For a team whose tight ends aren’t used, wide receivers can’t separate and offensive line doesn’t block consistently, it’s hard to imagine how the Orange will generate points of their own against this Pittsburgh defense.
During last season’s game against Pitt, Taj Harris’ long touchdown and Clayton Welch’s running ability opened up an SU offense that failed most of the night. Against this Panthers defensive line, Syracuse’s O-line gets exposed again.
It’s going to be a long day for Tommy DeVito and the running backs. Without three gifted possessions like UNC gave the Orange, Pitt gets ahead early and rolls to a win, covering the 21-point spread. Syracuse falls to 0-2 and enters an easier portion of its schedule without much optimism.
Danny Emerman (1-0 straight up, 1-0 against the spread)
Pittsburgh 28, Syracuse 13
Head coach Dino Babers said it could take weeks for Syracuse to find its bearing and to be confident that players are lining up in the right positions. This won’t be the week SU clicks. Pittsburgh’s defensive line is too strong and SU’s offensive line is too weak for the Orange offense to get going. I can’t see a way DeVito and the offense move the ball with any regularity, given how uninspired the running game was against North Carolina. Keeping DeVito’s pitch count manageable is key, but that’s only possible if SU establishes the run — something it hasn’t shown to be able to do yet.
Adam Hillman (1-0 straight up, 1-0 against the spread)
Pittsburgh 24, Syracuse 7
Babers was insistent that the Syracuse offense would look better in Week 2, saying the biggest improvement comes between the first and second games. That will be true for the defense, as they’ll hold Pittsburgh to under 10 points through three quarters. But much like last week’s matchup against UNC, the offense won’t be able to stay on the field. The offensive line won’t be able to stop Patrick Jones II and the rest of the staunch Pitt D-line, even without Jaylen Twyman. This one looks a lot like game one: close, until the defense runs out of gas.
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