Syracuse lost their fourth in a row on Saturday in another close call that came down to the final moments. Here is the best and the worst from that performance.
Top Talent: Offensive Line – The Syracuse offensive line had their best performance of the season on Saturday. They did not allow a sack, largely kept quarterback Eric Dungey away from pressure, and helped fuel an Orange rushing attack that averaged nearly six yards per carry. All against a strong Pittsburgh front seven.
Middle Man: WR Steve Ishmael – Ishmael had a career day with seven receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. Even when Ishmael wasn't open, he was still able to make plays downfield, displaying his excellent hands routinely. The only negative about his performance was a fourth quarter drop that would have given Syracuse a first and goal. They had to settle for a field goal as a result.
Bottom Feeder: RB DeVante McFarlane – He only got one carry, but he lost two yards on a third and short. McFarlane hesitated too much behind the line of scrimmage, rather than exploding towards the line to try to pick up the one yard needed for the first down.
Honorable Mention: RB Jordan Fredericks – In just his second career start, Fredericks ran for 91 yards on just 12 carries. He showed burst, wiggle and the ability to make the big play as he started the game with a 55-yard scamper that set up Syracuse's first touchdown.
Top Talent: MLB Zaire Franklin – Franklin was fanastic on Saturday, flying all over the field making plays. He led the Orange in tackles with 11, had three tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. It was easily his best game of the season.
Middle Man: S Antwan Cordy – Cordy had a strong day for the Orange. He had eight tackles, pressured Pitt on blitzes, had a tackle for loss on a bubble screen and made a fantastic pass break up on third down in the fourth quarter just prior to the fake punt. "Giant" continues to play big for Syracuse.
Bottom Feeder: Interior of the Defensive Line – Pitt was able to run against Syracuse very successfully on Saturday, a lot of it between the tackles. The Syracuse defensive tackles were unable to get the necessary penetration or shed blocks enough to make consistent stops. This was never more evident than on the Panthers final drive.
Top Talent: K Cole Murphy– Murphy was 2-2 on the day in field goals on Saturday and hit his extra points as well. It was a solid day for the Orange kicker.
Middle Man: Daivon Ellison – Ellison was able to go despite being listed as questionable. He made a big hit on a Tyler Boyd kickoff return, forcing a fumble with the ball flying through the air. Syracuse was unable to recover, but it was a monster hit that created an audible reaction from the crowd.
Bottom Feeder: K Ryan Norton – Norton made a big mistake late in the second quarter. With Syracuse leading 17-10, there were only seconds remaining before halftime. After a Pitt return, he had a late hit that resulted in a 15-yard penalty and gave the Panthers good enough field position to kick a field goal just before intermission.