Syracuse Football players react to ACC rivalry with Pittsburgh

SU senior linebacker Zaire Franklin spoke with reporters Tuesday, detailing his excitement to face Pittsburgh this weekend.

Syracuse and Pittsburgh are preparing to meet for the 73rd time on Saturday, a matchup that dates back to 1916.

The two teams were not necessarily fierce rivals during their time in the Big East Conference, however, always played competitive and entertaining games.

But when both programs decided to make the move to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2012, the two were linked forever.

Since then, the ACC has generally pinned the Orange and Panthers against one another during its promoted 'Rivalry Week' in both college football and basketball.

During last year's affair at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, the Panthers came away with a 76-61 victory in a game that raised plenty of eyebrows across the country.

The offensive fireworks were something that the Orange certainly remember, especially the defense.

Senior linebacker Zaire Franklin, a Pennsylvania native, recalls how it felt walking off the field after allowing 76 total points.

"It's definitely out there," Franklin responded in reference to how much he remembered about last year's loss. "I guess it's the same people, but just a whole new team on both sides. Just the personalities and the type of teams we both are, just aren't the same, for better or for worse. So, I'm just really excited to be able to play those guys again."

"I've been talking to Zach [Mahoney] a little about things," SU junior quarterback Eric Dungey said after being asked about last year's loss to Pittsburgh. "You take that film, but at the same time, Pitt's going to make adjustments just as we're going to make adjustments. So it's going to be a different game."

Dungey did not play in last year's regular season finale at Pittsburgh due to an injury suffered at Clemson. Backup quarterback Zach Mahoney got the start and put up 61 points on the Panthers defense.

When asked if Pittsburgh represented a heated rivalry, Dungey responded with honesty.

"I'm from the west coast, so this whole rivalry thing -- I just kind of look at it as another game," Dungey said. "I know for a lot of guys from the east coast, I think it is [a rivalry]. But, like I said, I'm just treating it as another game."

Franklin, on the other hand, hails from Philadelphia and was recruited to play at Pittsburgh. Additionally, he admitted to having friends who play for the Panthers, which he unequivocally labels as a rivalry.

"Being from where I'm from, if we were to play Penn State, that would be a rivalry for me. If we played Temple it would be a rivalry for me. Pitt has a lot of PA guys, like I said, two of my former teammates are on their team," Franklin added. "There are guys on their team that I know from Philly, they've got a lot of Philly guys over there and guys I've respected throughout the state over there.

"Playing a school that recruits so much in-state [talent] -- I guess it's going to be the same thing for [Antwan] Cordy and those guys when we play Miami," he continued. "So, whenever you're playing a team with a lot of people you're familiar with, it gives you a little bit more juice in the tank."

Syracuse (2-3, 0-1 ACC) and Pittsburgh (2-3, 0-1 ACC) bring the exact same overall records into Saturday's matchup.

Game time is set for 12:30 p.m. from inside the Carrier Dome on Saturday.

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