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Pitt hopes a strong November can make up for a weak September and drive the Panthers to their best bowl game of the Walt Harris era.

Even if they're not saying so.

The Panthers (5-2, 3-1 in Big East) have defeated Temple, Boston College and Rutgers in succession -- not exactly a punishing stretch -- since perhaps the worst month of Harris' eight-year coaching stay at Pitt.

In September, the Panthers lost to Nebraska and Big East newcomer Connecticut and were nearly beaten by Division I-AA Furman, winning only in overtime.

But if they win Saturday at Syracuse (4-4, 2-1), the Panthers might wind up with a Gator Bowl bid even if they lose to No. 15 West Virginia on Thanksgiving night. The Panthers have played in five lower-tier bowl games since Harris took over in 1997.

The Syracuse-Pittsburgh winner has gone on to play in a bowl game eight times in the last nine years.

"But it's not time to think about all that stuff," Harris said. "We don't need any other carrots out there, we just need to play and play good. Our guys fought hard after dealing with some youth and inexperience and heartbreak early."

Syracuse is coming off a 42-30 victory against UConn that saw the Orange move the ball much more easily and consistently than the Panthers did against the Huskies, rushing for nearly 300 yards as Walter Reyes ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

Pitt plays at Notre Dame next week, then has another week off ahead of the Thursday night West Virginia game. The Panthers finish the season Dec. 4 at South Florida.

Cards hold on to win

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Louisville and Memphis combined for 105 points, 1,202 yards of total offense and 15 plays of more than 20 yards.

But it was the shortest of runs -- a 1-yard touchdown by Eric Shelton with 37 seconds left -- that proved to be the difference Thursday night as the 14th-ranked Cardinals escaped with a 56-49 victory.

"It was a good thing we had a lot of weapons," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. "It was exhausting. It was a full day's work."

The Cardinals (6-1, 4-0 Conference USA) came in with the nation's top-ranked offense. They gained 599 yards, 92 yards more than their average but four less than the Tigers (5-3, 2-3), who nearly beat a ranked opponent for the first time since 1996.

Shelton ran for 136 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries, including a 78-yard TD in the second quarter. But his three short touchdown runs in the second half were the key.

"Every time we got on the field, we had the ability to score," Shelton said.

It was a wild game that featured 10 lead changes, capped when Shelton scored from the 1 to put the Cardinals ahead, 54-49.

No Spurrier for Gators

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- If Steve Spurrier decides to coach again, it won't be at his alma mater.

Spurrier withdrew his name from consideration Thursday to replace Ron Zook, saying his time at Florida has passed.

"He said he's done his thing here and he just thinks it's better for us to go find a coach who will be here for the next 10 or 15 years," Athletics Director Jeremy Foley said.

Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Utah's Urban Meyer and Cal's Jeff Tedford are considered other possible candidates.

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