How good is 6--1 Pittsburgh? "We're going to find out this week," coach Dave Wannstedt said of the Panthers' meeting this Saturday with No. 19 Rutgers (6--0), Pitt's first game against a ranked opponent this season. The Panthers have already shown signs of improvement following a rocky transition from Walt Harris, who led the program to a Fiesta Bowl berth in 2004, to Wannstedt, who last year went 5--6 in his first season at his alma mater. Quarterback Tyler Palko (above), whose production dropped dramatically as a junior, leads the country in pass efficiency, completing 71% of his attempts with 17 touchdowns and three interceptions. Sophomore tailback LaRod Stephens-Howling has helped Pitt improve its rushing by more than 40 yards per game over last year. And after giving up 30 sacks in 2005, the line has allowed just five in seven games. Because Wannstedt emphasizes the run far more than Harris did, Palko doesn't get many opportunities to pad his stats. During the Fiesta Bowl season he had five 300-yard outings; the past three games—all Panthers wins—he hasn't cracked 177. "I don't need to throw for 300 yards and lose," says Palko. "I did that a couple of times last year, and it wasn't fun."
Oklahoma State wideout Adarius Bowman spent part of his day off on Sunday going bowling with teammates. "I've got game," he said. If the Cowboys (4--2) go bowling this year, Bowman (left) will have plenty to do with it. In a 42--32 win over Kansas last Saturday, the transfer from North Carolina caught 13 passes for a Big 12--record 300 yards and four touchdowns. Said Jayhawks coach Mark Mangino, "He gets my vote for the Heisman." Bowman is the nation's leading receiver, with 123.8 yards per game.
THREE AND OUT
1 The first BCS standings indicated that the national championship game will pit the winner of Ohio State--Michigan against USC, assuming that both finish undefeated. If not, a one-loss Auburn or Florida from the SEC could make the title game.
2 Adrian Peterson has probably played his last game at Oklahoma. Sooners coaches have long expected that the junior running back would enter the draft next spring, and the broken collarbone he suffered last weekend isn't expected to change that.
3 With Michael Bush out for the season, Louisville is rotating four runners—Anthony Allen, Brock Bolen, Kolby Smith and George Stripling—but not having much success. The Cardinals rushed for just 105 yards in a 23--17 win over Cincinnati last week.
AL MESSERSCHMIDT/WIREIMAGE.COM (PALKO)
DAVE WEAVER/AP (BOWMAN)