September 15, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Tino Sunseri (12) passes the ball against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Panthers won 35-17. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Panthers hope to become road warriors against Syracuse

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September 15, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Devin Street (15) is forced out of bounds after a catch by Virginia Tech Hokies safety Michael Cole (2) during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Panthers won 35-17. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The last time the Pittsburgh Panthers were on the road they were blown out and humiliated on national television by the Cincinnati Bearcats but now the Panthers will face a tough road test in the 1-3 Syracuse Orange.

The Panthers are on a two game winning streak and were on a bye week meaning they had extra time to practice and prepare for this matchup.

Syracuse comes in to the matchup with a 1-3 record as they get set to open Big East play. They lost their opener 42-41 to Northwestern and then a 42-29 game to USC before winning 28-17 to Stony Brook to get their first win of the season. The Orange also on a bye week lost 17-10 to Minnesota on the road in their last matchup.

If anyone defeats Syracuse though, it may be themselves. Their turnover ratio is -1.5 per game which is next to last in the Big East and 109th in the country. They also average 8.8 penalties per game. If they shoot themselves in the foot once again, then this could be an easy win for the Panthers.

Matchup of the game: Pitt D vs Ryan Nassib. I know it is easy to pick on the Panther defense, but they raised their game in both of their past two games. They will need a similar effort as Nassib is an experienced quarterback with Pittsburgh roots. Nassib also leads the Big East in passing which means the defense could have a long day ahead of them.

Orange leaders:

Passing- Ryan Nassib 1,367 yards 10 TD 341.75 yards per game.

Rushing- Jerome Smith 247 yards 0 TD

Receiving- Marcus Sales 382 yards 5 TD

Fact: The Panthers play six games in six weeks, a tough stretch made even tougher by another fact – four of these games [Syracuse, Buffalo, Notre Dame and Connecticut] are on the road. This means they will have to recover quickly from losses and preparation time could be an issue.

On the Panthers: The Panthers have not faired well recently coming off of bye weeks and it looks as though they will be healthier. Starting defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who was out in the last game with a knee injury will start in the game. Also two Panthers may inch up closer in the Panthers record books. 22 passing yards will place Quarterback Tino Sunseri onto 5th place all-time on that list passing John Congemi. Wide Receiver Mike Shanahan will need five receptions to place 10th on that all-time list and pass Billy Davis and Oderick Turner.

Panther leaders:

Passing: Tino Sunseri 1,144 yards 8 touchdowns 286 yards per game

Rushing: Ray Graham 363 yards 3 touchdowns

Receiving: Mike Shanahan 368 yards 3 touchdowns

Interceptions: Jason Hendricks 3

Kicking: Kevin Harper 4-7 field goals 15-15 PAT. Long = 41 yards

Punting: Matt Yoklic 44.2 yards per punt. Long = 54 yards

Pitt-Syracuse Series in Brief

Series Began: 1916

Series Overall: Pitt leads 34-30-3

Big East Series: SU leads 10-9

At Pittsburgh: Pitt leads 20-11

At Syracuse: SU leads 17-14-3

At Neutral Sites: SU leads 2-0

Last Meeting: Dec. 3, 2011 (Pitt 33, Syracuse 20)

Here is a short video of wide receiver Mike Shanahan who after a disappointing 2011 season has raised his game this season. The video shows him finishing a group media session after the win against Gardner-Webb and then he talks about his transformation and what he expects from Syracuse.

Going back to the open, the game will start at 7 pm and will be televised by ESPN. The Panthers will have to play well on TV as their last two appearances on the network were routs in the BBVA Compass Bowl and the conference loss to Cincinnati.

Prediction: Syracuse is a very talented 1-3 that has the absolute worst record they could have. Their offense truly showed up in the first game only to fall short and facing USC meant facing then Heisman Trophy candidate Matt Barkley. Their third game worked in their favor while they likely overlooked Minnesota. The fact they are at home will help them but the Panthers defense knows how to stop Nassib and should hold him in check. The Panthers offense is clicking very well and they were very excited after the Gardner-Webb victory and they face a team that makes and will make several mistakes. Panthers 41 Syracuse 28

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Tags: Pittsburgh Panthers Football

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