Syracuse running back Curtis Brinkley's 166-yard performance in last week's 28-21 win over Louisville has put him in some select company.
Brinkley became the second running back in school history to rush for 100 yards in five straight games, and the first one to do it in a single season. Joe Morris had a five-game stretch spanning two seasons in his career, but no Syracuse back - not Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little or Larry Csonka - ever had a streak like Brinkley's.
``You think about the different running backs that have come into this program, it is quite a feat,'' said coach Greg Robinson. ``It's a credit to the program and a credit to all the offensive players because it takes them all to perform well.''
Brinkley's last big game came against a Louisville defense that was fifth in the country against the run coming in. Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe credited Brinkley's breakout performance for keying Syracuse's second straight win over the Cardinals.
dy has tried to pound us. I don't think we tackled real well either. We've got to get (Brinkley) on the ground.''
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said Syracuse's improved line play and Brinkley's ability to finally stay healthy have keyed his success. ``He's very decisive in his cuts,'' Schiano said. ``He's very hard to bring down. He runs low to the ground and is really running the ball with confidence.''
The Scarlet Knights (3-5, 2-3 Big East) host the Orange (2-6, 1-3) on Saturday.
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GETTING DEFENSIVE: Star quarterback Patrick White and sophomore tailback Noel Devine may get all the attention at West Virginia, but coach Bill Stewart says it's the team's unheralded defense that has allowed the 20th-ranked Mountaineers (6-2, 3-0) to become the early front-runner for a Big East title.
West Virginia is third in the conference in total defense and first in scoring defense, giving up 14.75 points per game, and dominated Connecticut in the second half of a convincing 35-13 win last weekend. The game was the third straight in which the Mountaineers pitched a shutout after halftime.
m ``the happiest guy in West Virginia.''
The defense's play has given him reason to be giddy. While the offense has struggled at times under new coordinator Jeff Mullen, the defense's play has kept West Virginia competitive.
``It's been a smoother transition there than it has been on offense,'' Stewart said. ``Not that our offensive kids and coaches aren't meshing (but) when you're keeping a guy like Jeff ... the players know the coaches and they know the system. With him what you see is what you get.''
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NOT PANICKING: Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe isn't panicking despite a second straight meltdown against conference also-ran Syracuse that sapped all of the program's momentum following an upset win over South Florida the week before.
``We're not going to go make a lineup change just for the sake of a lineup change,'' Kragthorpe said. ``But we are going to play our best players. We're going try to rebound and get back to work.''
Louisville (5-3, 1-2) has been much improved defensively this season but has been unable to stop the run in its two conference losses to UConn and the Orange.
Playing tougher up front would help. Kragthorpe said it was no coincidence that Louisville's leading tacklers against Orange were safeties Bobby Buchanan and Latarrius Thomas.
agthorpe said. ``I don't care if it's a D-tackle, I don't care if it's a 5-technique, I don't care if it's a linebacker, I don't care if it's a free safety, just get (him) on the ground.''
Next up for Louisville is Pitt and star running back LeSean McCoy.
The Cards own a seven-game winning streak against Pitt, including last year's 24-17 victory last year when McCoy fumbled at the Louisville 1 in the final minute as the Panthers went for the potential game-tying touchdown.
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CONFIDENCE BUILDER: There was no giddy celebration in Pittsburgh after the Panthers knocked off Notre Dame in four overtimes last week. The 25th-ranked Panthers (6-2, 2-1) just don't do the whole go-crazy thing.
``If you're going to make any headway from a program standpoint, you have to find a way to win those games,'' said coach Dave Wannstedt. ``It was as loud as any place we've been, particularly before the end of the game and overtime and I thought our kids kept their composure pretty good.''
It was the kind of performance Wannstedt was looking for after an stunning upset loss to Rutgers in the previous game. Wannstedt said the Panthers were able to rebound because he didn't give them the fire-and-brimstone treatment.
ker that they understand what will lose a game for you, the better chance they have of bouncing back with a win.''
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BETTER THAN THE ALTERNATIVE: Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly's name is popping up again in speculation over coaching vacancies. Nothing new.
While he was leading the Bearcats to 10 wins and a No. 17 final ranking last season, Kelly's name surfaced in job openings at bigger schools. Despite the team's breakthrough season, the Bearcats aren't selling out their 35,000-seat stadium, which is the smallest in the Big East.
The speculation doesn't ruffle Kelly.
``As long as I'm hearing it for other jobs and not because I'm getting fired, I'm OK with that,'' Kelly said. ``You either hear it for jobs that are open or jobs that you're getting fired for. That's the life of a coach. You're on one of the fences. I'd rather be on that fence than the other.''
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HONORS: West Virginia quarterback Pat White was offensive player of the week after running for 109 yards and two scores and throwing for 121 yards and another score in a win over Connecticut. White also surpassed career milestones of 4,000 rushing yards, 5,000 passing yards and 9,000 total yards.
White's teammate, linebacker Mortty Ivy was selected defensive player of the week following his performance against the Huskies. Ivy had 10 tackles, a pass breakup and a 19-yard interception return to set up a score in the win.
Pittsburgh kicker Conor Lee's school-record five field goals in the win over Notre Dame was good enough to earn him special teams player of the week. Lee kicked field goals of 22, 22, 26, 32 and 35 yards, including the game-winner in the fourth overtime.

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