Syracuse football has enjoyed the peaks and valleys of a competitive football season in 2011. Just five weeks ago, it seemed as if the Orange were poised for a run at the Big East crown and a Top 25 ranking. However, four straight losses later – and the team that dominated West Virginia on a national stage seems like a mirage.
Even with the month-and-a-half long slump, SU has a chance to salvage the season with a last-second win against an old foe. Looking for the same "at least we finished .500" ending are the Pittsburgh Panthers, who also looked like a force once upon a time. Led by Ray Graham, Pitt destroyed preseason-favorite South Florida on a Thursday night and garnered some buzz. Since, Graham suffered a horrific injury and the team enters Saturday as losers of four of the last six.
The bright side of the matchup between two desperate teams searching for some silver lining is that the unexpected should be anticipated. Trick plays, all-out blitzes and fourth-down attempts should not surprise anyone over the course of the afternoon at Heinz Field.
Syracuse and Pitt are both banged up, as most teams are after 11 games, and players and coaches are fighting to hold their respective positions for next season and beyond. The winner may have a shot at another game (if the committee selects the school), but the loser is done after an unacceptable year no matter how you look at it.
Let the fun begin…