For the 5th game in a row, the Syracuse University football team has a chance to clinch a bowl bid.
This time around the stakes are higher.
It's the final regular season game of the 2011 season, and Syracuse is now on its last chance to clinch a bowl berth. The game though goes well beyond that.
If Syracuse wins, it heads into bowl season, a chance to play in back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 1998-1999. Another mark that this program is back on the rise. With a bowl berth, comes extra practices that will surely help the younger players, and another nationally televised game. The bowl that seems most likely, if SU were to beat Pittsburgh looks like the Beef O' Brady's Bowl in Tampa, Florida. The Orange recruits plenty of Florida athletes, and that cause could only be helped by a postseason game in the Sunshine State.
A loss though, could be devastating. It would complete a collapse that saw Syracuse go from 5-2 with BCS hopes to a losing record at 5-7. It goes without saying just how tough the mood would be after a 5-game losing streak heading into the off-season, especially with 5 missed chances at a bowl.
Syracuse enters Saturday's game at Pittsburgh (noon, ESPN2) as an 11-point underdog. Rest assured in a game like this, the "Vegas" line can go out the window. Pitt sports a 5-6 record just like SU, meaning the winner is going bowling while the losing team goes home until spring practices.