Before they move on to the ACC next season, the Pitt Panthers and Syracuse Orange meet one last time as rival members of the Big East when they get together Friday night at the Carrier Dome (7 pm ET, ESPN).
Can the Panthers continue their recent offensive surge? Or can the Orange snap a seven-game losing streak in this series and bust up their recent trend of losing when they are favored?
Pitt opened as small two-point road favorites, but the betting in Vegas and online has swung the spread around to favor the Orange. Most books had Syracuse at -1.5 as of Thursday morning, according to OddsShark.com.
Pitt, which returned 14 starters from last year for its first season under new HC Paul Chryst, opened this year with a shocking 31-17 loss to Youngstown State of FCS, then looked bad in falling at Cincinnati 34-10.
But then the Panthers pulled a 35-17 upset of then-No. 13 Virginia Tech, and two weeks ago beat Gardner-Webb (also FCS) 55-10.
So, after a slow start, maybe Pitt is coming around. They had last weekend off to think about it and prepare.
Syracuse, meanwhile, with 12 starters back after going 5-7 last year, opened this season with a crazy 42-41 loss to Northwestern, then got beat by USC in New Jersey 42-29. The Orange then picked up a 28-17 victory over Stony Brook (FCS), but two weeks ago the 'Cuse lost at Minnesota 17-10, even though they outgained and outrushed the Gophers.
However, four turnovers spelled doom.
On the season, the Orange have turned the ball over 10 times and are averaging nine penalties per game. Syracuse also had last weekend off and should match Pitt in the rest and preparation areas.
Pitt has won the last seven games in the series with the 'Cuse. Last year, the Panthers beat the Orange 33-20 at Heinz Field. Syracuse actually outgained and outrushed Pitt, but committed six turnovers. The Panthers got the cover as eight-point favorites when their defense returned a fumble for the final score of the game with two minutes to go.
Also, the total on Friday's game opened at 56 or 57 at most online books, but has since been bumped to 58.
Free Pick: The early betting on this game pushed the line toward Syracuse, but they are just 2-8 ATS in their past 10 as chalk, but we go the other way and take Pitt Friday night.
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