Arrived safely at the Carrier Dome Saturday morning, even though the nice lady on the television machine this morning was using phrases such as “bitter cold” and “snow squalls.” I only saw a trace of flakes on my car (didn’t need the scraper).
Yet, it’s windy and cold outside the Carrier Dome (not much warmer inside, truth be told, but brighter than I remember from last year), and I wonder what we might encounter after the game. Reminds of the 1993 Big East Tournament when I walked to Madison Square Garden on dry sidewalks, only to emerge at the end of the day and be greeted by 2 feet of snow. Found a cabbie, who got me safely to the hotel, but he drove through snow-clogged streets like he was trying out for the Indianapolis 500.
Pitt could use similar speed Saturday against Syracuse (how’s that for a transition, Dejan?) while trying for the second week in a row to become bowl-eligible. Here are the keys:
Protect Tom Savage.
I predict a big day for one of the two Pitt freshmen (Tyler Boyd or James Conner).
Final score (watch, but don’t bet): Pitt 27, Syracuse 24.
Pitt is hampered by injuries, most of them caused by big hits in games and the natural wear and tear of 10 games and a month of preseason practices. But back injuries are becoming a nagging concern for Pitt.
Starting offensive linemen Adam Bisnowaty and Cory King won’t play Saturday for that reason. They didn’t even make the trip, which has to be especially depressing for King, a senior.
Bisnowaty will miss for the third time in four weeks; King, who also has a hamstring issue, hasn’t played since the Virginia Tech game Oct. 12. Plus, Ejuan Price, an emerging pass rusher, has a back injury that will keep him out for the fifth consecutive game after he started the previous four. A concussion kept freshman defensive back Titus Howard at home, but Trenton Coles, who missed last week for the same reason, will dress.
Look for senior wide receiver Devin Street to wrap that injured ankle tightly and try to play. Street has played this season with passion, and with his college opportunities dwindling, he doesn’t want to let this one get away from him. But Pitt will need him even more next Friday against Miami.
Some trivia before signing off: Pitt is playing in the Carrier Dome for the second year in a row for the first time since 1974-75. Is that Pitt’s penance for having two nationally televised, prime-time home games this season (Florida State and Notre Dame)?
For updates on the game throughout the day, follow @JDiPaola_Trib on Twitter. I am also planning to join Tab Douglas on 93.7-FM The Fan Saturday night at 11.