|No. 17 Pitt wary of Rutgers despite winning streak|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 24 October 2008 10:15|
The Panthers, winners of five in a row, are trying to open a season 6-1 for only the second time in 25 years. The other time came in 2006, when the then-No. 19 Scarlet Knights relied upon Ray Rice's 225 yards rushing for a 20-10 win over Pitt at Heinz Field.
Pittsburgh didn't win again, losing its final five to finish 6-6 - a disappointing end to a season that began with much promise.
The roles are reversed for Saturday's game in Pittsburgh, with Pitt (5-1, 2-0 in Big East) ranked and favored to beat Rutgers (2-5, 1-2) for the first time in four seasons. Pitt has won eight of the last 12 meetings, but hasn't defeated the Scarlet Knights since 2004.
ow what their story is this year, but they've always had a great defense since I've been here.''
Rutgers' story: Not much of a running game, too much pressure on quarterback Mike Teel and not enough offense to support a solid defense.
The Knights have held their last two opponents to a combined 23 points yet managed only a split, losing to Cincinnati 13-10 before beating Connecticut 12-10 for their first victory against a major college team.
``Rutgers may be the best two-win team in the country,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said.
Wannstedt's comment may be a stretch, but it reflects the talent Rutgers possesses on a defense that is allowing fewer points per game (19.7) than Pitt (21.5).
``We need to be ready for a 60-minute game, especially against Rutgers, because we haven't had a lot of success against them lately,'' Pitt quarterback Bill Stull said.
Stull's progress - he is second in the Big East with a 213.8 yards-per-game passing average - has been measurable during Pitt's winning streak. With the Panthers no longer reliant solely upon running back LeSean McCoy (114.8 yards per game) for their yardage, defenses can't commit as many defenders to slowing the sophomore.
``He's getting better every game,'' Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said of Stull. ``He allows them to have a chance to make some big plays.''
ason, one during a 20-16 win over Pitt, but is having an uneven season with three TD passes and seven interceptions. Teel was 17-of-30 for 192 yards against UConn, and is being booed at some home games.
``If the guy up the road (in the NFL) at the Meadowlands isn't playing well, that's a different story,'' Schiano said. ``He's getting millions of dollars. This guy's a college kid.''
It hasn't helped Teel that Rutgers isn't running the ball well with Rice in the NFL - the Knights are averaging fewer yards per game rushing as a team (a conference-low 107.9) than McCoy (114.8) is by himself.
McCoy is a major worry to Rutgers after gaining 447 yards and scoring five touchdowns in his last three games. McCoy ran for 156 yards and three scores on only 18 carries during a 42-21 win at Navy last weekend.
McCoy is second in the Big East in rushing to Connecticut's Donald Brown (167.7), who gained 107 yards against Rutgers.
``I still think we're leaving some plays on the field,'' Wannstedt said. ``The better we run the ball, the more opportunities we're going to have to pass.''