A BAKER'S DOZEN: Pittsburgh Panthers

THE PITTSBURGH PANTHERS have two of the top players at their respective positions in LB Scott McKillop, an All-American, and RB LeSean McCoy, the nation's leading scorer. Throw in one of the most accurate kickers in the nation, Conor Lee, and the Panthers have plenty of weapons on all sides of the ball.

CARDIAC KIDS: Pitt has won five games this season, four on the road, with fourth quarter comebacks. Pitt used fourth-quarter comebacks against Iowa (21-20, Sept. 20), at Syracuse (34-24, Sept. 27), at USF (26-21, Oct. 2), at Notre Dame (36-33 in four OTs, Nov. 1) and at West Virginia (19-15, Nov. 28).

ONE OF THE BEST: Despite being in just his second year as a starter middle linebacker Scott McKillop, a first team All-American, ranks 11th on the school's all time list with 333 career stops. He has gone on to establish a national reputation as a "tackling machine" as he has compiled 14 double-figure tackle games during his career. McKillop averaged 12.6 tackles per game last year to rank first among all FBS defenders and currently nationally ranks 11th in total tackles (10.50 avg.), first in the Big Eats, second in solo tackles (6.50 avg) and first in tackles for loss in the Big East (1.38 TFL).

BLOCK PARTY: Pitt has blocked a school-record 10 kicks in 12 games this year. The Panthers have blocked three extra points (all by Greg Romeus: one vs. Bowling Green and two vs. Rutgers), three field goals (Tommie Duhart vs. Buffalo; Aaron Berry vs. USF; Greg Williams vs. Cincinnati) and four punts (three by Andrew Taglianetti: vs. Iowa, Notre Dame and Cincinnati; and one by Mike Toerper vs. Connecticut). The 10 blocks eclipsed the former record of eight set in 1987.

AGAINST THE TOP 25: Pitt has won back-to-back games against Top-10 foes with each contest occurring on the road (at No. 10 USF, 26-21, Oct. 2 and at No. 1 West Virginia, 13-9 Dec. 1 2007). Overall, the Panthers are 3-1 in their last four outings against Top 25 foes. In addition to USF and West Virginia, the Panthers defeated No. 23 Cincinnati (AP and USA Today) last season, 24- 17, in Heinz Field on Oct. 20, 2007. Most recently, Pitt played at Cincinnati on Nov. 22 and fell to the No. 19/20 Bearcats, 28-21.

TOP 3: The top three tacklers are LB Scott McKillop with 126 tackles, 16.5 for loss, one interception, four pass breakups and five quarterback hurries, LB Austin Ransom with 78 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and four quarterback hurries and FS Eric Thatcher with 56 tackles and four pass breakups.

REMARKABLE IN THE RED ZONE: Pitt has scored on 41 of its 45 trips into the red zone this year (91.1%) to rank ninth nationally (tied) and second in the Big East in red zone efficiency. Pitt has scored a touchdown on 27 of its 45 red zone trips (60%) this season.

KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Senior receiver Derek Kinder ranks among the most prolific pass catchers in Pitt history. His 130 receptions rank seventh all-time and he has the top five in his sights. Kinder also recently broke into the top 10 in career receiving yards. Kinder leads the team with 35 receptions for 410 yards and a co-team high three touchdowns.

SHADY: Sophomore running back LeSean McCoy, one of the top running backs in the nation, is the nation's leading scorer (10.50 points/game) and 10th leading rusher (116.92 yards/game). This year alone he has 1,403 yards and 21 touchdowns while averaging 4.9 yards per carry. In just his second year at Pitt he has 36 career touchdowns setting the school for total touchdowns as a freshman and sophomore. McCoy, who has been compared to former USC star Reggie Bush, needs just three more touchdowns to set Pitt's single season rushing and total touchdown records.

FOURTH DOWN - NO PROBLEM: Pitt has converted a Big East-leading 72.2% of its fourth-down attempts this season (13 of 18). That success rate ranks sixth nationally. The Panthers were a season best 3 of 3 on fourth downs against Iowa and at Notre Dame. All six conversions against Iowa and Notre Dame led to Pitt scoring a touchdown.

MR. AUTOMATIC: Place kicker Conor Lee is one of the most consistent kickers in the nation as he ranks first in the Big East in scoring (8.2 ppg), field goal percentage (87.0%), field goals (1.67 FG/game) and PAT kicking percentage (100%). Lee, who is automatic from 40 yards in, has never missed a PAT with a school record 113 made and is Pitt's career field goals leader with 50 converted attempts. His 263

GOOD BEHAVIOR: Pitt is one of the country's most disciplined teams in terms of penalties this year. The Panthers rank seventh nationally in fewest penalty yards per game (35.42 avg.) and 13th (tied) in fewest penalties per game (tied, 4.58 avg.). Pitt has limited its penalties to 55 total for 425 yards this season.

EXCELLENT ON THE ROAD: Pitt is 6-1 in its last seven away games, the Panthers' best road stretch in six years. Pitt had won five in a row dating back to the 2007 regular-season finale at West Virginia until recently losing at Cincinnati, 28-21, on Nov. 22. The five consecutive road wins marked Pitt's best stretch since winning six consecutive during the 2001-02 seasons. (Pitt won its final four on the road in 2001, including a 34-19 win over N.C. State in the Tangerine Bowl, and opening two away contests of the '02 campaign.)

UP AND DOWN: Generally speaking Pitt has defended the pass well giving up a respectable 193 yards per game. The pass defense is fueled by defensive ends Jabaal Shead and Greg Romeus who have tallied five and a half sacks each. But the Panthers have been susceptible against the pass in multiple games this year. Rutgers racked up 371 yards and six passing touchdowns, Notre Dame had 271 yards and three touchdowns and Cincinnati had 309 yards and three touchdowns.

BeaverBlitz Top Stories