No. 14 Pittsburgh routs Syracuse
Finally, No. 14 Pittsburgh can look ahead to Notre Dame, West Virginia and Cincinnati. Even if it seemed the Panthers were already doing exactly that during most of the first half against Syracuse.
Greg Williams' 51-yard interception return for a touchdown just before halftime got slow-starting Pittsburgh going, and the Panthers extended their best start to a season since 1982 by beating Syracuse 37-10 on Saturday.
Dion Lewis ran for 110 yards and a touchdown for the freshman's sixth 100-yard game, tight end Dorin Dickerson caught his 10th touchdown pass this season and the Panthers (8-1, 5-0 in Big East) won their fifth in a row heading into next Saturday's game against No. 19 Notre Dame.
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"It is a big game. We've got to have a good week of practice, bring our 'A' game and we can't start off slowly like we did today," Lewis said. "We've got to keep coming."
Bill Stull was 16 of 23 for 225 yards and no interceptions as the Panthers, who last were 8-1 in Dan Marino's senior season 27 years ago, set themselves up for a possible Big East title-deciding game against No. 4 Cincinnati on Dec. 5.
If the Bearcats beat Connecticut on Saturday night and West Virginia on Friday, the Cincinnati-Pitt game will determine the conference's BCS bowl participant regardless of the Pitt-West Virginia result on Nov. 27.
"Now we've got three tough games and we'll take them one by one," defensive lineman Gus Mustakas said.
Pitt played much of the first half as if it couldn't wait to begin its difficult closing stretch, leading 6-3 until Williams intercepted a pass by Greg Paulus that was tipped by Jabaal Sheard for his third career touchdown with 1:20 left in the half. Pitt outscored Syracuse 24-7 after that.
"I think we did a good job of keeping our feet on the ground, knowing the importance of this conference game putting us 5-0, coming out and not taking nothing for granted," coach Dave Wannstedt said. "We got it going in the second half."
Lewis, lightly recruited in prep school last season but fourth nationally in rushing with 1,139 yards, finished off a 55-yard drive by scoring from the 1 early in the third quarter to make it 20-3. His 78 points on 13 touchdowns tie Tony Dorsett (1973) for the second most by a Pitt freshman, trailing only LeSean McCoy's 90 points two seasons ago.