October 4, 2006

Pitt-Syracuse quick hits

# The Panthers travel to Syracuse Saturday trying to improve their record to 5-1 for the first time since 2002. The game will be televised as the Big East Game of the Week. It will be seen locally on WTAE-TV at Noon in Pittsburgh. Dave Simms will handle the play-by-play while former Panther QB John Congemi will be handling the color.

# The series with Syracuse dates back to 1916. The Orange lead the series 30-28-3. This will be a Homecoming game for Syracuse.

# Pitt has won 3 of the last 4 games with Syracuse but is just 3-9-1 at the Carrier Dome going back to 1980. It has not been an easy place to play over the years. Pitt lost in double overtime in their last trip to the Dome.

# The Carrier Dome has a seating capacity of 49,262. So far this year the Orange have averaged 38,999. Syracuse is on a three-game winning streak so the crowd could be a little larger this weekend.

# Freshman defensive end McKenzie Mathews played for Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse. Pitt running back coach Dave Walker played for Syracuse and then later was an assistant coach for them. Syracuse running back coach Desmond Robinson played linebacker for Pitt. He played with Pitt assistant coach Matt Canvanaugh. Dave Wannstedt was a graduate assistant at Pitt at that time. Pitt's strength and conditioning coach Mike Kent once worked on the same staff at NC State as Syracuse strength and conditioning coach Will Hicks.

# Big East teams are now 28-8 against non-conference opponents for a .759 winning percentage. They are 9-7 against schools from BCS conferences. Louisville, West Virginia and Cincinnati are all favored in non-conference games this weekend so that record could improve.

# Syracuse leads the nation with 25 sacks. Syracuse defensive end Jameel McClain leads the Orange with 7 sacks which has him tied for second place nationally.

# Syracuse has won three in a row. It might easily have been four in a row if it were not for a double overtime loss at home to Iowa.

# Pitt beat Syracuse 34-17 at Heinz Field last year. Pitt fell behind 10-0 in the first period before rallying. An interception return of 38-yards by H.B. Blades started the turn around. Syracuse went 1-10 last year under first year coach Greg Robinson. Coach Robinson is still looking for his first Big East Conference win.

# Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko leads the nation in passing efficiency with a 191.59 rating. He has completed 68.2% of his passes while throwing only 3 interceptions. Tyler now ranks No. 3 on the all-time Pitt list in passing yards behind Alex Van Pelt and Dan Marino. If he keeps up at his present rate he could go by Dan Marino by the end of the year.

# In response to a question by a Syracuse reporter this week Dave Wannstedt described cornerback Darrelle Revisthe teams most talented player. He called him the complete package at corner. He said as a coach you would like to recruit eleven players like Revis and if you did you would win a lot of football games.

True freshman Joe Thomas will get his first start at right guard with the season ending injury to senior John Simonitis. Jeff Otah is starting at left tackle so you have two members of the recruiting Class of 2006 on the offensive line.

# This year 13 members of last year's recruiting class have played in a game including 11 freshmen plus junior college transfers Jeff Otah and Lowell Robinson.

# The game with Syracuse can be heard nationally on Sirius Satellite radio on channel 123.

Jim Snyder can be contacted at jrsnyder04@comcast.net.

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