Syracuse vs. Pitt: The Historically Unrivalous Rivalry

The last time the Syracuse Orange defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers on the football field, Paul Pasqualoni was the head coach, Doug Marrone was an offensive line coach for the New York Jets and Ashton Broyld was 12 years old. Let that sink in for a minute and then we'll continue.

On paper, this should be one of the biggest rivalry games of the year for Syracuse (and vice versa).

  • We first played one another in 1916.
  • We've played every season since 1955, our longest-running series by a longshot now that West Virginia is gone.
  • The series is historically even (34-30-3 Pitt).
  • We're relatively close to one another, a five-hour drive away.

And yet, as we've discussed at length here, the Orange and Panthers fanbases don't have much more vitriol for one another than any other Big East foe.

"As long as we beat Pitt, it's a successful season." - No Syracuse fan, ever.

I don't know if it's one thing that makes this rivalry such a non-rivalry. The lack of many memorable moments certainly jumps out. Could you name the ten most memorable games in the series history? Could you even REMEMBER ten games in this series?

Even last year's season-ender, which should have made us hate Pitt, create little ill will. We were too busy blaming ourselves for blowing so many chances at bowl eligibility that we didn't have time to make it personal.

It also hasn't helped matters that Syracuse has been a doormat in this series for the last decade. Unlike any other school in the conference (and that includes dearly-departed West Virginia), no one has owned the Orange quite like the Panthers. Syracuse's last win came in 2004 and even that required a double overtime effort. Other than that, they've lost every other contest since 2002.

Actually, you could make the case that the series has always been dominated by one party and that's a large part of why the rivalry feels lacking.

  • Between 1957 and 1968, Syracuse won nine of twelve games.
  • Between 1973 and 1983, Pitt won every single meeting.
  • Between 1984 and 2001, Syracuse absolutely owned the Panthers, 16-1-1, including an 11-game winning streak.
  • Since 2002, Pitt has won all but one contest.

So no matter which side you root for, no matter your generation, one team in this rivalry was always dominating the other. Other than a four-year swing between 1969 and 1972, there has never been a time in the modern era where this rivalry has actually felt like a rivalry.

It's ironic that Syracuse and Pitt are linked once again by the impending move to the ACC. It means we will continue to play one another. It means we will continue to recruit against one another. On paper, it's one more piece that would lead you to believe that these two schools will continue to hate one another for years to come.

The truth is, we'll keep wanting to beat one another, but we're saving our hate for someone else.

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