Syracuse's last chance at bowl eligibility disappeared inside the Carrier Dome Saturday night as the Orange fell 31-14 to #17 Pittsburgh. With the loss, Syracuse falls to 5-7 (2-6) and will miss a bowl game for the third consecutive season and fifth time in six years under head coach Dino Babers.
Pittsburgh sold out on stopping Syracuse's ACC leading rushing attack and it worked. The Panthers limited Sean Tucker to just 29 yards on 13 carries as they played extra linebackers in place of safeties to limit running lanes. Shrader was sacked five times, and finished with -2 yards rushing. He did throw the ball well at times, however, finishing 17-24 for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Kenny Pickett was 28-38 for 209 yards and four touchdowns to lead Pitt.
The game started out strong for Syracuse. The Orange marched down the field on the first drive, led by a 6-6 passing effort by Garrett Shrader. Shrader his Courtney Jackson in the end zone to give Syracuse a 7-0 lead. The Syracuse defense did not allow a first down on the Panthers first three offensive possessions. The Orange offense, however, was unable to capitalize.
The game turned in the second quarter with the game tied. Shrader hit Devaughn Cooper over the middle, and he fumbled trying to pick up extra yards. Pittsburgh would recover and score on the ensuing drive. That put the Panthers up for good.
Syracuse did make a bit of a push in the second half. After Shrader found Jackson in the third quarter for their second touchdown connection of the game, Duce Chestnut intercepted Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett to give the Orange some momentum (that was Syracuse's first forced turnover since the Wake Forest game). Syracuse would go three and out on the subsequent possession to end any realistic chances at a comeback.