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Pitt rooting for Syracuse against BC

| Saturday, Nov. 27, 2004

Syracuse inflicted damage on Pitt's season three weeks ago with a double-overtime victory over the Panthers. Today, the Orange can make amends.

Pitt has a good shot at earning the Big East's lucrative BCS bowl berth if Syracuse (5-5, 3-2) upsets Boston College (8-2, 4-1) at the Eagles' Alumni Stadium at 1 p.m.

BC enters the game -- its biggest ever as a Big East member -- without star quarterback Paul Peterson, who broke his throwing hand last week against Temple. That leaves redshirt freshman Matt Ryan of Exton with the tall task of leading the Eagles.

Ryan had thrown two passes and played in one game before replacing Peterson last week. He did, however, lead four scoring drives and finished 8 of 15 for 121 yards against the Owls.

"The guy had a terrific game," Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "They didn't cut back. They just kept doing what they do."

The loss of Peterson could be damaging, considering he was the Eagles' top offensive player and he carried them to an upset of Notre Dame by throwing for 383 yards.

"It's a big game, but you've got to approach it as just one game," Ryan said. "That's the way we've approached every other game. Up to this point, it's the biggest game on our schedule."

For Syracuse, this is an opportunity to send a retiring athletic director out on a good note, in addition to keeping hope alive for coach Paul Pasqualoni, who is on the hot seat.

"You don't really focus on those outside distractions," Syracuse linebacker Kellen Pruitt said. "You've really got to put all your main energy and focus in practice."

Running back Walter Reyes is expected to return after missing Syracuse's last game with a shoulder injury. Reyes, a senior could be playing his last college game.

"Only Walter knows how he is," Pasqualoni said, "and he's only going to know once somebody hits him."

With a win, the Orange will gain bowl eligibility for the first time in two years. Moreover, an Orange victory would make the Big East membership extremely happy.

Boston College is disdained throughout the conference for its decision to leave for the Atlantic Coast Conference after this season. A lawsuit by the league against BC is still pending.

The last thing anybody affiliated with the Big East wants is for BC to steal the league's BCS berth, which is worth in the range of $14 million and would pay BC in the neighborhood of $3 million. Syracuse has an opportunity to prevent these things from happening. And, considering the fact that the Orange, an 11 1/2-point underdog, has an 8-5 edge in the series and it beat BC, 39-14, last season, perhaps it can pull the upset.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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