College Football Picks: Pittsburgh vs. Syracuse Odds and Predictions

Doc MosemanCorrespondent INovember 18, 2013

Nov 9, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers running back James Conner (40) rushes for a touchdown against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 28-21. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

A couple of old Big East foes will square off against one another this Saturday afternoon for the first time as members of the ACC when the Pittsburgh Panthers head into the Carrier Dome to face the Syracuse Orange. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. ET, and the game will be available on ESPN3.

Pittsburgh has gotten bounced around a bit in its first season in the ACC, with a 2-4 straight-up record in conference play. The Panthers are an even 5-5 SU (4-6 against the spread) on the year, with their biggest win coming outside the conference in a 28-21 victory over then-No. 23 Notre Dame as a 4.5-point home underdog.

The Orange are an even 3-3 SU in their first season in the ACC but are coming off a 59-3 pasting at the hands of No. 2 Florida State this past Saturday as 37.5-point road underdogs. They are 5-5 SU overall and 6-4 ATS. Syracuse is 3-2 SU at home this season, and the team has covered in four of the five games.


Pittsburgh at Syracuse Betting Storylines

The Panthers have lost four of their last six games, but for the most part, their offense has still been able to move the ball and find the end zone. With the exception of a 21-10 loss to Georgia Tech, they have averaged 27.8 points in their last four games, which is slightly higher than their season average. The defense is ranked 69th in the nation in points allowed and is giving up an average of 26.9 points a game.

To get a victory over its long-time rivals, Pittsburgh will need another solid performance from quarterback Tom Savage. In a losing effort against North Carolina this past Saturday, he completed 60.5 percent of his throws for 313 yards and two scores to keep this game close deep into the fourth quarter. James Conner did a good job running the ball with 102 yards on 19 carries.

Syracuse did not get on the board against the Seminoles until the fourth quarter with a field goal, and it was shut out by Georgia Tech 56-0 back in mid-October. Against some lesser competition the Orange have faced, the offense scored 13 points against Wake Forest and 20 points against Maryland in games this team actually won. Overall, the Orange are ranked 99th in Division I in scoring with an average of 22.4 points a game. Their passing game has been basically nonexistent with an average of 174.9 yards a game.

Defensively, Syracuse has been all over the board this season. It allowed a combined three points in those wins over the Demon Deacons and the Terrapins, but it allowed an average of 47 points in its five losses this year.

The key to this matchup could be a big day from a running game that is averaging 196.7 yards. That would go a long way toward keeping the defense fresh by preventing Pitt’s offense from getting on the field.


Pittsburgh at Syracuse Betting Odds and Trends by 5Dimes

Point spread: Pittsburgh -1.5

Total Line: OFF

The Panthers are 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 games and 1-4 ATS in their last five road games. The total has stayed “under” in 11 of their last 14 games on the road.

The Orange are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games and 7-1 ATS in their last eight games at home. The total has stayed under in four of their last six home games.

Head-to-head in this matchup, Pitt has won seven of the last eight meetings SU and is 4-1 ATS in the last five. The total has gone “over” in four of the last six meetings in Syracuse.


College Football Picks: Pittsburgh at Syracuse College Betting Predictions

These teams are pretty evenly matched and obviously familiar with one another. In what should be a low-scoring contest, the best play could be on the under depending how low the total line is set. As far as a play on a side, I am sticking with the home team to win this game SU, as Syracuse will do a great job of exploiting its biggest edge in this contest.

Take: No. 122 Syracuse (+1.5) over Pittsburgh