Pitt and Syracuse meet in key matchup

Pitt (4-2,1-0) and Syracuse (4-2,1-1) meet Saturday at sold out Heinz Field in a game that may hold an inside track to the January 1st Gator Bowl for the winner.<br><br> Syracuse is coming off a 39-14 win over Boston College that saw them dominate the game from start to finish. They are led by their own Heisman Trophy candidate, sophomore RB Walter Reyes.

The Orangemen run the freeze option offense, which has given the Panthers fits over the years. Reyes makes the offense go and he is the 2nd leading rusher in the Big East this season. He's rushed for 776 yards on 131 carries and 12 TD's and is averaging an amazing 5.9 yards per carry.

Senior QB RJ Anderson is having a very good year and he has done it with his arm and his legs. He has completed 97 of 156 passes for 1,103 yards and 7 TD's. He's getting the job done rushing the football also with 205 yards on 49 carries for 4.2 yards per carry and 3 TD's.

Anderson's top receiving threat is senior Johnnie Morant. At 6-5 and 223 pounds with excellent speed, he is a tough matchup for any defensive back. Morant has 26 catches for 490 yards and 4 TD's. He has an 18.8 yards per catch average.

On defense, Syracuse features a defensive line that returns all 4 starters from last season. Senior NT Christian Ferrara is the leader of the defense. Senior LB Rich Scanlon is third in the Big East in tackles.

Syracuse returns 6 starters on each side of the ball this season and most are on the line units - 4 of the 5 starting offensive linemen and all 4 starting defensive linemen. They went 4-8 last season and finished 2-5 in the Big East, including a triple overtime win over Virginia Tech and a 48-24 loss to Pitt.

Larry Fitzgerald can tie the NCAA consecutive games TD receiving record (13) held by Charles Rogers if he catches a TD Saturday. The Panthers are coming off a 42-32 win over Rutgers that saw them take a 42-7 halftime lead, but then let Rutgers back in the game with a poor second half performance.

Brian Gold

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