Panther Report


Posted Nov 22, 2004


During the Panthers' bye week, focus turned to Thursday's "Backyard Brawl" rivalry game against No. 21 West Virginia.

The Panthers (6-3) have won four of their last five games and are coming off a dramatic 41-38 road victory over Notre Dame. Place-kicker Josh Cummings connected on a 32-yard field goal with one second remaining to lift Pittsburgh past the Irish in South Bend, Ind., for the first time since 1986.

Sophomore quarterback Tyler Palko has been instrumental in the Panthers' rise this season. The Co-Big East Offensive Player of the Week became the first player to throw five touchdown passes against Notre Dame.

He completed 26 of 42 attempts for 334 yards and didn't throw an interception. Palko is averaging 248.9 yards per game -- third in the Big East -- and has managed 18 touchdown passes.

It's no surprise that wideout Greg Lee, Palko's favorite target, leads the league in receiving yards per game (103.0).

After losing two of their first four games, the Panthers are in the hunt for one of the conference's four guaranteed bowl invitations. Following its date with West Virginia (8-2), Pittsburgh will face South Florida to end the regular season on Dec. 4.

Inside The Huddle: Pittsburgh's passing attack has proven to be one of the league's best this season. The Panthers are averaging 253.7 yards through the air -- third in the Big East. Tyler Palko and Greg Lee have formed a surprisingly dangerous quarterback-receiver connection.
  •  The Panthers' pass defense is ranked last in the seven-team Big East. Pittsburgh allows an average of 264.9 yards, and has yielded 17 touchdowns. This could prove fatal with West Virginia WR Chris Henry coming to town.

  • "There is no such thing as over-hype when it comes to this game. This is the biggest game of the year for us, the most important one on our schedule every year. This one cannot be over-hyped. We have to do our job, a better job than we've done the past two years, though." -- Coach Walt Harris, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, regarding Pittsburgh's rivalry with West Virginia. 

  •  Pittsburgh (6-3) will host No. 21 West Virginia (8-2) on Thursday in the "Backyard Brawl" at Heinz Field. The Mountaineers have won two straight over the Panthers in a series that dates to 1895.

  • QB Tyler Palko -- The junior completed 26 of 42 passes for 334 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-38 win over Notre Dame on Nov. 13. He is the Big East's third-rated quarterback and is averaging 248.9 passing yards per game.

  • WR Greg Lee -- The Big East's leading receiver reeled in five passes for 95 yards and a touchdown against the Irish.

  • Injury Report:  DE Azzie Beagnyam (ankle) will miss the remainder of the season.


Related Stories
Weekly Sports Report
 -by PantherDigest.com  Nov 17, 2004
Leaders take charge in big win
 -by PantherDigest.com  Nov 15, 2004
Panthers Fiesta Bound
 -by PantherDigest.com  Dec 6, 2004

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DE Azzie Beagnyam (profile)
K Josh Cummings (profile)
WR Greg Lee (profile)
QB Tyler Palko (profile)
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