PITTSBURGH, OCT. 31 -- There was something happening in that crowded doorway, where Syracuse Coach Dick MacPherson yelled to no one in particular, "I love it!" A whole gang of bowl game scouts surrounded his Orangemen, the team everyone suddenly wants to invite to a national championship.

Eleven postseason fixtures were represented here today as No. 8 Syracuse (8-0) disposed of Pittsburgh, 24-10. The Panthers supposedly were the last team between Syracuse and an undefeated season. The Orangemen disabused the Pitt Stadium crowd of 52,714 of any notion they might be vulnerable to upset by taking a 24-3 first-half lead. Then, they played a leisurely, sometimes overly conservative second half before they could celebrate.

Still, the Orangemen remain shockingly undefeated, a school that hasn't been so since 1959 and frankly prefers basketball. It was widely said that Pittsburgh (5-3) might reveal them to be fraudulent today, but then, the same was said two weeks ago, just before they humiliated Penn State, 48-21. So much for the skepticism that has run rampant around this team, because Syracuse has just three not-so-tough games left, against Navy, Boston College and West Virginia, and all the bowls want to hold hands.

"I've got fruit from the Orange Bowl and sweaters from the Sugar Bowl," MacPherson said. "We told them {the team} we're going to a bowl. And the better the season, the better the bowl."

The Orangemen may have been bothersomely archconservative in the second half, but in the first they put on a picturesque display of their varied offense led by quarterback Don McPherson. He ran for a three-yard score on an option and passed for touchdowns of 28 yards to tight end Pat Kelly and 10 yards to split end Tommy Kane. First off, Tim Vesling kicked a 36-yard field goal.

"Everyone says, is Syracuse that good?" McPherson said. "The fact is, we're very good."

Pittsburgh came up with only Jeff VanHorne's 37-yard field goal in the second quarter while struggling behind starting quarterback Sal Genilla, who completed seven of nine passes for 80 yards but was sacked five times. Despite the large deficit, the Panthers continued to look for an answer to the offensive problems that have plagued them all season and caused such enigmatic behavior as upsetting Notre Dame only to barely beat Navy.

They possibly have found one in freshman quarterback Darnell Dickerson, the 1986 prep player of the year in Michigan (M.L. King High School, Detroit). He started the second half and immediately threw for a touchdown, a seven-yard play to Craig Heyward to end a 74-yard drive.

"I just thought we needed a spark and I thought Darnell could give us one," Coach Mike Gottfried said. "We'll see how the week goes."

For the game Dickerson completed eight of 20 passes for 76 yards. He was victimized by a number of penalties and dropped passes, but it was an intriguing glimpse of a vastly talented player who was coveted by Nebraska and supposed to be redshirted here, but may end up a starter.

Also on that drive, the 6-foot, 260-pound Heyward, nicknamed Ironhead, passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season, the fourth Pitt back besides Tony Dorsett (four 1,000-yard seasons) ever to do so. He reached 1,061 by gaining 141 yards on 24 carries, the most by a back this season against Syracuse, which is ranked fourth in the country against the run. But none of them were easy yards.

"Syracuse is for real," Heyward said. "They come to punish you on every play."

A Syracuse punt later the Panthers threatened again by driving 42 yards to the 6, and had they scored it might have been a nervous half. Instead Pitt faced fourth and three, and rather than take the field goal, went for it. Dickerson's pass to flanker Bill Osborne never had a chance, skipping through the end zone.

Gottfried was concerned because VanHorne had missed a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter. But this was as close as the Panthers would get to the end zone again, and to come away with no points was critical. The crowd quieted, the clock ran on, and the momentum swung subtly back to the Orangemen, even if they didn't do anything with the ball either.

Syracuse's defensive generosity was misleading. The Orangemen are ranked in the top 10 in three defensive categories, but were lacking today. On the first play of the game, Lombardi and Outland trophy candidate Ted Gregory twisted his left knee. The star defensive lineman was out for the rest of the game, but was highly visible. He joined the defensive huddle during timeouts and berated the defense for its lack of movement.

Syracuse's offensive conservatism in the second half was less understandable. Coach MacPherson attributed it to his own hesitancy to gamble, and a toe injury to his quarterback. McPherson completed eight of 17 passes for 178 yards, but was just two of seven for 58 yards in the second half.

"My fault," the coach said. "I didn't want to make any mistakes."

The Orangemen also may have tightened up before the bowl scouts. They are painfully aware that even with an undefeated record, they might get locked out of a national title game simply by virtue of their upstart status and relatively mediocre schedule, and the apparently invulnerable presence of Oklahoma, Nebraska and Miami as the top three. A loss would be disastrous with this many scouts looking on.

"We know they're there," McPherson said. "But we don't line up against them."

The cure is to keep winning. Orange Bowl officials have attended the last three Syracuse games, and claim they have not yet evaluated a looming choice between the Hurricanes and Orangemen to play the Big Eight champion. Representative Don Kubit said he would recommend to the committee that it continue to follow the Orangemen.

"Teams will either play their way in or out of our picture," Kubit said. "Syracuse is clearly attractive and obviously we like what we see. That's why we're here again today."

Syracuse 10 14 0 0 24 Pittsburgh 0 3 7 0 10

S -- FG Vesling 36

S -- McPherson 3 run (Vesling kick)

S -- Kelly 28 pass from McPherson (Vesling kick)

P -- FG VanHorne 37

S -- Kane 11 pass from McPherson (Vesling kick)

P -- C. Heyward 7 pass from Dickerson (VanHorne kick)

A -- 52,714

Syracuse Pitt First downs 18 17 Rushes-yards 46-224 41-145 Passing yards 217 156 Return yards 2 26 Passing 9-18-0 15-29-1 Punts-average 5-35 4-43 Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1 Penalties-yards 3-30 4-36 Time

RUSHING -- Syracuse: Drummond 11-91, Johnston 13-53, McPherson 14-48. Pittsburgh: C. Heyward 24-141, Dicker

PASSING -- Syracuse: McPherson 8-17-0, 178 yards, Drummond 1-1-0, 39. Pittsburgh: Genilla 7-9-0, 80, Dicker

RECEIVING -- Syracuse: Kane 5-100, Kelly 3-105, Glover 1-12. Pittsburgh: Osborn 5-70, C. Heyward 3-14, Ridd