Biggest Surprise ?

When all is said and done, Pittsburgh may prove to be the Big East's biggest surprise this season. The second-place Panthers own a 5-2 record and are in line for a Gator Bowl bid.

Coming off a bye week, the Panthers will travel to Syracuse (4-4) on Saturday. Pittsburgh will also face Notre Dame, West Virginia and South Florida in the season's final four weeks.

But no matter how the Panthers finish, they have clearly made strides. Take into consideration that this team edged I-AA Furman in overtime, was beaten convincingly at Connecticut and barley got by lowly Temple in September.

As junior quarterback Tyler Palko continues to progress, there's no telling how far Pittsburgh might go this season. Palko has completed 121 of 219 passes for 1,564 yards and 10 touchdowns.

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 a 41-17 win over Rutgers on Oct. 23.

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.

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