The Panther Report

Narrow victories over I-AA Furman and lowly Temple, in addition to a loss at Connecticut, left Panthers coach Walt Harris on the "hot seat" two weeks ago. But a win over Boston College and Saturday's 41-17 thrashing of Rutgers have Pittsburgh suddenly contending for a Big East championship.

"I think a lot of people just got down on us," Harris said.

"I think the reason we probably weren't playing as well as people expected was we were so young. We had 10 new starters on offense."

With four games remaining -- Syracuse, Notre Dame, West Virginia and South Florida -- the Panthers are in second place in the Big East. And if junior quarterback Tyler Palko continues to improve, there's no telling what Pittsburgh might accomplish this season.

Palko, who has gained notoriety by throwing ambidextrous flip passes when pressured in the pocket, completed 27 of 43 attempts for 318 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Rutgers.

The Panthers took a 38-3 halftime lead and were never threatened at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh's defense forced five turnovers and limited Rutgers to 56 rushing yards.

The Panthers (5-2) will take the week off before heading to Syracuse (3-4) on Nov. 6.

Quick Hits: Pittsburgh's pass offense has steadily improved throughout the season. QB Tyler Palko threw for 318 yards in Saturday's 41-17 win over Rutgers. Two receivers -- Joe DelSardo and Greg Lee -- managed 102 receiving yards.

A week after limiting Boston College to 56 rushing yards, Pittsburgh did the same to Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights amassed the exact same total on 22 carries. Pittsburgh owns the league's second-ranked run defense (109.4 ypg.), behind Boston College.

Quote The Coach: "Tom O'Brien has done an excellent job playing Notre Dame. We should probably invite him and his staff down to help us." -- Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris on his team's Nov. 13 matchup with the Irish. O'Brien and Boston College have beaten Notre Dame in four straight meetings.

The Panthers (5-2) will take the week off before heading to Syracuse (3-4) on Nov. 6.

Who's Hot: WR Joe DelSardo -- The 5-8 former walk-on burned Rutgers for eight catches and 102 receiving yards. DelSardo reeled in touchdown passes of 18 and 17 yards in the first half.

LB Josh Lay -- The junior returned an interception 82 yards for a touchdown in Saturday's win. He also broke up three passes and was credited with four tackles. The Panthers only surrendered 56 rushing yards.

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