Pittsburgh should probably be more of a rival that they are. I mean, we've been playing them every single year since 1957, the same as West Virginia. Yet, Pitt doesn't feel the same. We'd like to beat Pitt but we need to beat West Virginia.
The Orange hit the road for the first time since September and it's probably a good time for that. Syracuse boasts the Big East's best run defense, anchored by Smilin' Arthur Jones. They've got a tall order against Pitt tailback Dion Lewis, who leads the Big East in rushing. As it usually does...something will have to give.
Brain at Orange44 is up first with his prediction:
The team is simply not as talented as Pittsburgh, it is just that simple. Pending some absolute miracle by all Syracuse players and coaches involved, this one will not be pretty, and will end up giving Pittsburgh another Big East win. Pittsburgh over Syracuse 37 to 13.
ESPN's Brian Bennett is on the same page:
Pittsburgh 31, Syracuse 14: Pitt has had a week off to heal and get ready, while Syracuse has had all kinds of turmoil this week with the Mike Williams situation, suspensions and fan debate over Greg Paulus. That's not a good combination in the Orange's favor, especially on the road. Pitt wins big and turns its attention to its crucial three-game finishing stretch.
The Three Idiots think the Orange might be able to hold their own a little more.
...emotion can only take a team so far, and Pitt is far too talented and much, much deeper than the Orange. They take advantage of a weak and battered SU secondary in the second half to pull away and win this one -- but it's closer than people think. Pitt - 27, SU - 17
Over at Pitt blog Eye Of a Panther, they're feeling good about their chances:
While I think they can't help but to look ahead to the Notre Dame game and rest of the season, I don't think it will affect the outcome of this one. The games against Syracuse have been close for the most part, but this looks like Pitt's best team in recent years. I do have some concern about Pitt getting an early lead and then turning complacent, but overall, expect a good win. Prediction: Pitt 31 / Syracuse 13
And Pitt fans over at Pitt Blather seem to be feeling pretty good about their chances as well.
As for me, I just keep coming back to the fact that the Orange are playing in a hostile environment, in the elements, with some shaky kickers and shakier QB and without talent like Mike Williams or Antwon Bailey on the field. The Orange will be able to do what they always do...keep things interesting and play hard. But, like everyone else has said, the talent gap will be too much. Pittsburgh 30, Syracuse 17