Pittsburgh did it again to Virginia Tech, this time taking the team it wants to emulate out of national championship contention.
Brandon Miree ran 53 yards for a touchdown with 4 minutes 11 seconds remaining, completing Pittsburgh's comeback from a two-touchdown, third-quarter deficit to help lift the Panthers past No. 3 Virginia Tech, 28-21, Saturday at Blacksburg, Va.
"You need to pinch me right now," said Miree, who rushed for 161 yards in 23 carries. "I'm still in awe of everything. Virginia Tech is a great program. I've been watching them for years, and like Coach [Mike Harris] said, we do idolize this team and this program."
With the victory, the Panthers (7-2, 4-0) moved ahead of the Hokies (8-1, 3-1) in the Big East race. Pittsburgh hadn't won its first four conference games since the Big East was formed for football in 1991.
Last year, they handed the Hokies their worst loss in five years, 38-7. The victory was the Panthers' first against a top-five team since they beat No. 4 Notre Dame in 1987.
Pittsburgh plays Temple next Saturday, then has 10 days to prepare for a Nov. 21 showdown against No. 1 Miami.
"We're working our way up the ladder," Harris said. "To win here with this crowd, this atmosphere, to be down 14-0 ... to still come back and win the game, it's almost more than I can fathom."
Pittsburgh got three touchdown passes from Rod Rutherford to freshman sensation Larry Fitzgerald and 275 yards rushing against the nation's best defense against the run (40.75 yards), including Miree's big run.
On the play, a simple off-tackle run, he burst through the line, slipped a tackle and ran it in virtually untouched.
The Hokies were done in by their offense, which scored its touchdowns on first-half drives of three and 21 yards set up by special teams plays, and on Lee Suggs' 59-yard touchdown run just after halftime. The Panthers outgained Virginia Tech, 483-275, and the Hokies committed three turnovers, giving them 10 in three games. Quarterback Bryan Randall had an interception and a fumble.
"We never really got the momentum today on offense, but you've got to give the credit to their defense. They did exactly what we thought they were going to do. It was a matter of executing, and we didn't," Randall said.
With 37 seconds left and one last chance to tie, Randall threw incomplete on first down, was sacked and fumbled out of bounds at the Hokie six.
Randall then completed a pass to Ernest Wilford at the 39. A late-hit penalty against Pittsburgh put the Hokies at the Panther 46, but a final pass for Wilford fell incomplete as time ran out.
Syracuse 38, Central Florida 35 --Walter Reyes rushed for a career-high 130 yards and three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, to help the Orangemen (2-6) rally from an 18-point deficit.
Central Florida (3-5), which had 539 yards of total offense, got within three, and had a chance to tie late. But Steve Gregory, who also had a fumble recovery, blocked Matt Prater's 47-yard field-goal attempt -- Syracuse's second block of the game -- to seal the win.
Ryan Schneider completed 28 of 47 passes for a school-record 440 yards and a touchdown. Central Florida's previous best was 438 yards, set by Daunte Culpepper against Louisiana-Lafayette in 1998.
West Virginia 46, Temple 20 -- Avon Cobourne ran for 94 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Rasheed Marshall added 98 yards rushing and two touchdowns to help West Virginia (6-3, 3-1) win at Philadelphia. Temple is 3-6, 1-3.