Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh NCAAF Week 10 Betting Preview: Mystery Quarterback for Orange

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Steve Linton #17 of the Syracuse Orange celebrates against the Clemson Tigers. Eakin Howard/Getty Images/AFP.

Are the Syracuse Orange for real? If so, they’re an easy college football pick this Saturday when they visit the Pittsburgh Panthers.

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Syracuse Orange vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

Saturday, November 5, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT at Acrisure Stadium

Some rebuilding projects take longer than others. The Syracuse Orange went into the new millennium as one of the top teams in the Big East; then they made the fateful decision to fire head coach Paul Pasqualoni in 2004 and replace him with Greg Robinson. Whoops!

Things started getting better in 2016 when Dino Babers took over the program. Now the No. 22-ranked Orange (6-2 SU and ATS) is one of the top teams in the ACC, and they can build their bowl resume this Saturday when they visit the struggling Pittsburgh Panthers (4-4 SU, 2-6 ATS).

This makes it very strange to see Syracuse getting 3.5 points on the NCAAF odds board at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review), and at +100 vigorish to boot. Is there something wrong with the Orange? Are the Panthers not nearly as bad as they look? Enquiring minds want to know.

Why Are Syracuse the Underdogs?

It could be those back-to-back losses they suffered at Clemson (-14) and against visiting Notre Dame (-1.5). That last game was a high-profile matchup on ABC, and it ended in a 41-24 loss, knocking Syracuse down from No. 16 in the polls.

Then you have QB Garrett Shrader, who suffered an undisclosed lower-leg injury in that game against the Fighting Irish and didn’t play the second half. Carlos Del Rio-Wilson took over and played well, but a tipped pass led to an untimely interception in the fourth quarter, and the Orange were done.

Adding injury to injury, Syracuse announced Monday that DB Garrett Williams would miss the rest of the year with a torn ACL, after getting helped off the field during the first half of the Notre Dame loss. Williams first hurt his knee in Week 7 against NC State and didn’t play at all against Clemson.

Williams is one of the best pass defenders in the ACC, and one of the big reasons the Orange started the year at 6-0. But it was the run defense that failed Syracuse in their last two games, and that could be a problem again this Saturday as they deal with yet another stout offensive line in Pittsburgh

Didn't You Say Pitt's Offense Was Garbage?

I didn’t use those exact words, but yes, you must have read our Week 9 betting preview for the game between Pittsburgh and North Carolina. We recommended Under 65 based partly on Pitt’s offense, and everything was going according to plan until the Tar Heels (-3 at home) scored 21 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to win 42-24.

All the more reason to fade Pittsburgh this week, right? Well, it’s hard to say. The Orange are being tight-lipped about Shrader’s status for this game; they didn’t let him nor Del Rio-Wilson speak to the media on Tuesday.

As a result, the analytic models are all over the place for Saturday’s matchup. Some have Shrader sitting and the Panthers winning by around 3.5 points, which lines up with the college football odds at press time.

Others appear to have Shrader in the mix, and Syracuse winning by up to 3.5 points at the best sportsbooks, including Jeff Sagarin’s projections at The USA Today.

Is Del Rio-Wilson Any Good?

Yes, which is why we’re going to take our chances with Syracuse for our Week 10 NCAAF picks. Del Rio-Wilson was a 4-star recruit for Florida last year, where he redshirted before transferring to the Orange. Before that, Del Rio-Wilson was a high-school star in Georgia, and even attended Cartersville, the same school as former Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence.

Like Shrader, Del Rio-Wilson is a dual-threat quarterback, although he didn’t have much success on the ground versus Notre Dame. However, he did rack up 190 yards and a touchdown on 11-for-22 passing, and again, his lone interception was on a tip drill.

Expecting Del Rio-Wilson to match Shrader’s production might be a bit much; Shrader (20 combined TDs, 5 INTs) is on the watchlist for this year’s Davey O’Brien Award, handed out to the top quarterback in NCAA football. But then again, Shrader is having the best season of his college career by far and wasn’t considered a lock to win the starting gig this spring.

Final Pick

Whichever quarterback starts this Saturday, he’ll be stepping into a pretty good situation.

The Orange have assembled a solid offense under new coordinator Robert Anae, and they’ll be facing a Pitt team that’s covered just once in conference play this year. We’ll buy that for a dollar.

NCAAF Pick: Syracuse +3.5 (+100) at Heritage Sports

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Syracuse +3.5 (+100)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.