Tyler Palko, frustrated nearly all night by West Virginia's defense, completed four third-down passes on host Pittsburgh's only sustained drive before scoring from the 2 late in the game to lead a 16-13 upset yesterday of the No. 21 Mountaineers.
Pitt's first victory over its biggest rival since 2001 effectively assured the Panthers (7-3, 4-2 in Big East) of a bowl bid -- possibly to the Gator -- and muddied West Virginia's bowl plans. The Mountaineers (8-3, 4-2), losing their second straight, now might settle for the Insight Bowl after being the front-runner for the Big East's guaranteed BCS bowl bid before its 36-17 upset loss to Boston College two weeks ago.
Palko finished 14 of 38 for 165 yards and an interception, but was near perfect on the deciding 73-yard drive, hitting top receiver Greg Lee three times for 38 yards on third-down passes and tight end Erik Gill on a fourth. A pass-interference penalty gave Pitt a first down at the West Virginia 2, and Palko scored on a rollout with 4:06 remaining to give Pitt its first lead.
West Virginia's special teams were dreadful again, just as they were in allowing two return touchdowns against BC. Brad Cooper missed two of four field goal tries before freshman Andy Good kicked a 31-yarder in the third quarter on his first attempt of the season, punter Phil Brady averaged only 29.3 yards on four punts, and the Mountaineers twice drew penalties for running into Pitt punter Adam Graessle.
UConn 41, Rutgers 35 -- Dan Orlovsky threw three touchdowns and the host Huskies strengthened their postseason bowl credentials with a wild win over the Scarlet Knights.
Tight end Dan Murray caught touchdown passes of 32 and 3 yards and halfback Cornell Brockington ran for two more and caught another scoring pass for the Huskies (7-4, 3-3 Big East). Rutgers (4-7, 1-5) dropped its fifth straight in a season that began with hopes of a first bowl bid since 1978.
Connecticut now finds itself in good position to go to a bowl in only its third season with a full complement of scholarship players.