Pitt and Syracuse head into the regular season finale hoping to salvage their year in some small way. Both teams are 5-6 and a win will make one of the two teams eligible for a postseason bowl game.
The Panthers under first-year head coach Todd Graham have been particularly disappointing. Pitt had eight home games this season and having averaged nine wins per season over the past three years. Now they are facing the prospect of their first losing season since 2007.
Pitt has been banged up all season and after watching starting running back Ray Graham several weeks ago, the team may be without backup Zach Brown, who was injured in last week's Backyard Brawl against West Virginia. If Brown is unable to go, look for freshman Issac Bennett to get the start in his place.
After a big win against the Mountaineers, Syracuse's train has fallen off the tracks. The Orange destroyed conference favorite West Virginia 49-23 in that game, but have promptly lost four straight games against Louisville, UConn, South Florida, and Cincinnati. That game against the Mountaineers remains the team's only conference win to date.
Both Pitt and Syracuse are 5-6, but the Panthers have probably been the more impressive of the two teams. They've suffered some close losses to good teams. In losses against West Virginia, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, and Iowa, they've lost by a combined 11 points. This game is also a home contest for the Panthers, which should give the team an advantage.
Another thing to consider is that Todd Graham is a master motivator. I fully expect him to be able to sell this team on the fact that playing in a bowl game, no matter how minor it may be, is a big deal. The Panthers should be ready to play on Senior Day.
For more on Pitt and the game, check out SB Nation Pitt blog Cardiac Hill.