Big East Outlook

As teams come down the stretch of their conference schedules, bowl qualifications and positioning are up for grabs.

The Eagles are eligible for a sixth straight postseason appearance thanks to Saturday's 21-10 win over Rutgers. Coach Tom O'Brien has amassed a 54-38 record in seven-plus seasons and has led No. 24 Boston College to victories in four consecutive bowl games.

The Eagles (6-2) have owned Rutgers in recent years, winning 10 straight. The Scarlet Knights haven't won in Chestnut Hill, Mass., since 1986 and won't get the chance to break the streak because Boston College leaves for the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

Trailing 10-7 with 4:57 remaining in the third quarter, quarterback Paul Peterson engineered two scoring drives that sparked the Eagles to their second victory in a row.

O'Brien wasn't happy with Boston College's effort on the ground -- 82 total yards -- but was willing to throw the ball to compensate.

"If we can't rush the ball, we won't rush it. We'll throw it," O'Brien said. "Right now we're not very efficient (at running the ball), so we have to do what we do best and that's throwing the football. We have to do that a little more. If we can get 150 yards a game rushing, I'd be very happy."

Boston College will face No. 15 West Virginia (8-1) on Saturday in a matchup that could ultimately produce the Big East champion.

GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Paul Peterson -- The senior completed 8 of 9 passes for 121 yards on two second-half scoring drives. Overall, Peterson completed 22 of 38 attempts for 296 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's 21-10 win over Rutgers.

KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Mathias Kiwanuka -- The 6-8, 249-pound junior recorded two solo tackles and one sack, but more importantly, had Rutgers' offensive linemen on their heels for the better part of 60 minutes. Kiwanuka also intercepted a pass and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We win ugly. Some teams do that. It's who we are right now." -- Boston College coach Tom O'Brien, on his team's gritty win over the Scarlet Knights.

LOOKING GOOD: Boston College's receiving corps continues to make quarterback Paul Peterson look good. Peterson hooked up with seven different wideouts in Saturday's 21-10 win over Rutgers. Grant Adams led the way with five catches for 70 yards.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: It has been three games since Boston College rushed for at least 100 yards. The Eagles managed 56 against Pittsburgh, 62 at Notre Dame and 82 in the Rutgers game.

ROSTER REPORT: No significant injuries or moves.

Connecticut, in a sense, controls its postseason destiny. In their first season as a Big East member, the Huskies must win one, and probably two, of their final three games to earn a bowl invitation.

Not bad for a team three seasons removed from the I-AA level.

Coming off a bye week, Connecticut (5-3) will play at Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Huskies will wrap up the season with a home game against Buffalo (Nov. 20) and a trip to Rutgers on Thanksgiving.

Connecticut has dropped two of its last three games and is 0-2 on the road, but quarterback Dan Orlovsky and tailback Cornell Brockington still comprise one of the league's top combinations.

Orlovsky has passed for 2,363 yards and 17 touchdowns against 12 interceptions this season. Brockington leads the Big East with 111.75 rushing yards per game and had managed seven scores.

If Connecticut earns a split with Georgia Tech and Buffalo, it could set up a very meaningful game against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights still need two wins to become bowl eligible, but that game could go a long way toward deciding each team's postseason future.

KEEP AN EYE ON: QB Dan Orlovsky -- The senior completed 39 of 51 passes for 445 yards and three touchdowns in a loss to Syracuse on Oct. 30. Orlovsky, who was also intercepted twice, hit 10 different receivers.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have to understand that you don't have the comforts of home and the fans cheering for you. You just can't go on the road and make all the mistakes we made." -- Coach Randy Edsall, following Connecticut's loss at Syracuse. After playing six of their first seven games at home, the Huskies will face two of their final three opponents on the road.

LOOKING GOOD: QB Dan Orlovsky, who has already been invited to the Senior Bowl on Jan. 29, set a career high for completions (39) and passing yardage (445) in the loss to Syracuse.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: Connecticut's five turnovers against Syracuse were the most it has committed since joining the Division I-A ranks three seasons ago. In a disturbing trend, the Huskies gave away four turnovers in a 45-31 win over Temple on Oct. 23.

ROSTER REPORT: Freshman TB Larry Taylor (ankle) may be available against Georgia Tech.

Junior quarterback Tyler Palko orchestrated an 18-point rally and put the Panthers in position to win their fourth straight game, but Syracuse pulled out a 38-31 victory in two overtimes at the Carrier Dome on Saturday.

Orange running back Damien Rhodes scored a 2-yard run on the first possession of the second overtime. On Pittsburgh's chance to tie, running back Raymond Kirkley was stopped on a fourth-down rush, ending the game.

In perhaps the most exciting Big East game of the season, Palko completed 28 of 42 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns, including a 9-yard pass to receiver Joe DelSardo in the first extra session.

Pittsburgh (5-3) dropped from second to fourth place in the league standings following the loss to Syracuse. The Panthers are very much in the hunt for a bowl invitation, but watched their shot at the Big East title vanish in the Carrier Dome.

Pittsburgh is actually headed into the toughest stretch of its schedule. The Panthers will play at Notre Dame on Saturday, host conference leader West Virginia on Nov. 25 and close the season at South Florida on Dec. 4.

GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Tyler Palko -- The junior completed 28 of 42 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns in Saturday's 38-31 loss at Syracuse. Even more impressive was the fact that Palko didn't throw a interception.

KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Greg Lee -- The sophomore caught a career-high nine passes for 188 yards and reeled in a 57-yard touchdown reception from Palko.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's sickening. I hope we can get over this." -- Defensive end Thomas Smith to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, on the double-overtime loss to Syracuse that ended with Raymond Kirkley getting stuffed on a fourth-down run.

LOOKING GOOD: After falling behind 21-6, the Panthers mounted a furious 18-point rally and actually took a 24-21 lead. Pittsburgh, however, couldn't overcome Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. The Panthers are 1-9-1 in their last 11 trips to upstate New York.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: Cornerback Darrelle Revis was whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after tackling Syracuse running back Damien Rhodes out of bounds in the fourth quarter. The infraction moved the ball from the 28-yard line to the Pittsburgh 14, and four plays later the Orange tied the score with a field goal.

ROSTER REPORT: No significant injuries or moves.

For the second straight week, Rutgers pushed a ranked team to the brink of upset, but finished on the short end. Seven days after dropping a 35-30 decision to No. 15 West Virginia, the Scarlet Knights suffered a 21-10 setback at No. 24 Boston College.

Rutgers took a 10-7 lead with 4:57 remaining in the third quarter, but was outscored 14-0 the rest of the way. Scarlet Knights quarterback Ryan Hart was intercepted three times in the loss and has accounted for 14 turnovers in the last four games.

Fullback Brian Leonard rushed for 58 yards on 21 carries, but Rutgers' run game failed to get untracked. The Scarlet Knights have rushed for 100 total yards just once in the last eight games.

Rutgers (4-5) has dropped 10 straight to Boston College and won't get a chance to snap the streak -- at least anytime soon -- as the Eagles will leave for the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

The Scarlet Knights, who will take this week off, must win their final two games against Navy and Connecticut to have any shot of securing a postseason berth.

GAME BALL GOES TO: WR Tres Moses -- The senior caught six passes for 98 yards in a 21-10 loss to Boston College on Saturday. Moses needs one more reception to tie Rutgers' single-season record of 69. He has managed 56 catches for 659 yards in Rutgers' last six games.

KEEP AN EYE ON: FB Brian Leonard -- The redshirt sophomore rushed for 58 yards on 21 carries and reeled in eight receptions for 79 yards against Boston College. Leonard has managed 100 or more all-purpose yards in 13 straight games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I sat at this podium two years ago and it wasn't a lot of fun. I sound like a broken record, but we went from being lousy to being competitive. The next step is to be good. And I thought maybe this weekend would be the week we took that step and became better, became a good team." -- Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, on the progress of his team.

LOOKING GOOD: Rutgers finally has a special teams weapon in freshman place-kicker Jeremy Ito. Coach Greg Schiano showed no fear in sending Ito out to attempt 55- and 56-yard field goals at Boston College. He missed both, but has connected on six tries from 40 yards and beyond.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: The Scarlet Knights committed a season-worst 12 penalties for 80 yards. Rutgers was whistled for seven false start infractions. Ugh.

ROSTER REPORT: Freshman Jeremy Zuttah started at LG in place of sixth-year senior Brian Duffy (knee). Freshman FB Jean Beljour also made his first start of the season. ... DT Gary Gibson, WR Shawn Tucker (groin), OL Will Vogt (illness), TE Chris Loomis (concussion), and DBs Dondre Asberry (spine, neck), Manny Collins (head, face), Eddie Grimes (head, face) and Bryan Durango (knee) missed the Boston College game.

Early-season losses to four ranked opponents -- Purdue, Virginia, Florida State and West Virginia -- apparently prepared Syracuse well for the stretch run. The Orange have won two straight games and are second in the Big East.

Junior running back Damien Rhodes rushed for 103 yards and scored a game-winning 2-yard touchdown in the second overtime to lift Syracuse past Pittsburgh 38-31 at the Carrier Dome on Saturday.

Running back Walter Reyes, playing in his final home game, added 123 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Orange (5-4) will travel to Temple this week and then to Boston College on Nov. 27 to close the season.

"I think it takes a lot of character and ability to hang in there and persevere," said Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, who has been on the "hot seat" for most of the season. "It was just persistence, persistence, persistence. It certainly wasn't pretty."

After Rhodes opened the second overtime with a touchdown, Pittsburgh had a chance to tie, but fell short on a fourth-down play. Strong safety Diamond Ferri and linebacker Tommy Harris stuffed running back Raymond Kirkley to end the game.

GAME BALL GOES TO: SS Diamond Ferri -- The senior anticipated a weak-side toss to Pittsburgh running back Raymond Kirkley and made the fourth-down stop to lock up the double-overtime victory.

KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Damien Rhodes -- The junior rushed for 103 yards on 23 carries, including 81 yards on 16 carries after halftime, and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 2-yard rush to lead Syracuse past Pittsburgh. Rhodes accounted for all 25 yards on Syracuse's final drive in the second extra session.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was a great win. I think the locker room could have rivaled the Red Sox. It was unbelievable." -- Syracuse tackle Adam Terry, on his team's post-game celebration.

LOOKING GOOD: A week after surrendering 566 yards to Connecticut, Syracuse's defense held Pittsburgh to 443 yards in two overtimes. The Orange also managed three sacks for 18 yards.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: Syracuse was successful on 7 of 16 third-down conversion opportunities. The Orange entered the game ranked last in the Big East in that category (30.8 percent), so it was actually an improvement.

ROSTER REPORT: RB Walter Reyes suffered a back injury, but his status is undetermined.

Junior quarterback Walter Washington scored twice in the first 5:30 of the second quarter to tie the score at 14, but Temple couldn't compete with No. 15 West Virginia down the stretch in a 42-21 loss in Morgantown.

Washington completed 16 of 24 passes for 206 yards and rushed for an additional 117. But as usual, his heroics weren't enough to lift the Owls to victory.

Wide receiver Phil Goodman reeled in four receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown. Running back Umar Ferguson chipped in with 82 rushing yards.

Temple (1-8) couldn't even take advantage of a Chris Henry-less West Virginia attack. The Mountaineers receiver was benched for the first half because he was ejected from the Rutgers game on Oct. 30 (two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties).

"Today 80 percent of our team fought and competed," Temple coach Bobby Wallace said. "I'm extremely disappointed in the other 20 percent."

Temple will play host to Syracuse on Saturday and will then close its season against Boston College on Nov. 20.

GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Walter Washington -- The junior completed 16 of 24 passes for 206 yards and rushed for an additional 117 in defeat. Even though he was fighting a sore throwing shoulder and a case of tonsillitis, Washington played a part in all three Temple touchdowns.

KEEP AN EYE ON: LB Rian Wallace -- The junior recorded 14 tackles (nine solo), including two for loss against West Virginia. He moved into ninth place on Temple's career tackle list with 307 stops.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I thought Walter played great. He had his best game of the year today." -- Temple coach Bobby Wallace, on Washington's performance.

LOOKING GOOD: QB Walter Washington has amassed 2,425 yards of total offense this season with two games remaining. He is just 152 yards shy of Temple's single-season record, which was set by Henry Burris in 1994.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: Temple just doesn't have the players to compete with the Big East's elite teams for 60 minutes. The Owls were outscored 28-7 from the 6:35 mark of the second quarter until the game's conclusion

ROSTER REPORT: DL Antwon Burton (foot) is out indefinitely.

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