Knowing they had little to fear from Pittsburgh's running game, the Mountaineers got to QB Rod Rutherford for three sacks in the second half. After going 12-for-19 passing for 220 yards and three touchdowns in the first two quarters, Rutherford was 13-for-28 the rest of the way and was picked off three times.
Meanwhile, West Virginia was pounding the Panthers for 307 yards rushing, most of it supplied by RB Quincy Wilson. The Panthers never began to slow the senior, who had 34 carries for 208 yards and four touchdowns.
"Quincy Wilson is a tremendous football player," coach Walt Harris said. "He's not only fast, but he's physical too. He may be the best running back in the league, and there's a lot of outstanding backs in this league."
On the other side of the ball, the Panthers' leading rusher was FB Lousaka Polite, who had nine yards on five carries. TB Jawaan Walker had only two yards on 10 rushes, and TB Tim Murphy had no gain on two rushes. TB Brandon Miree (calf) continues to sit. He hasn't played since the third game of the year, and the Panthers' running game as suffered as a result.
Pittsburgh's passing attack remains spectacular. When Rutherford is afforded protection, it's one of the nation's best. WR Larry Fitzgerald added two more touchdown catches against West Virginia, raising his total to 19 for the season and extending his streak of games with a TD catch to 16. Overall, he had nine catches for 185 yards. True freshman WR Greg Lee, in his second start of the season (in place of Princell Brockenbrough), had three catches for 81 yards. TE Kris Wilson also came up with several difficult catches, including two for touchdowns.
The loss was the first in Big East play for the Panthers, who have lost control of their own destiny in the title race. At 4-1 (7-3 overall), they are tied for first with Miami and West Virginia. They could still win the championship and the BCS bowl berth by winning out and finishing more than five spots ahead of West Virginia (6-4 overall) in the final BCS standings, even if the Mountaineers win their remaining games against Syracuse and Temple.
The Panthers visit Temple on Saturday before playing host to Miami on Nov. 29 in the season finale.
"We got beat because we didn't do what we needed to in order to be successful. We have to stop the run, and we didn't do that, and we need to run the ball and we didn't do that. We can't turn the ball over and we did that, and we didn't win the kicking game." -- Coach Walt Harris, summing up the loss to West Virginia.