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Pitt's James Conner has streak of 4 consecutive 150-yard games


Pitt sophomore running back James Conner has drawn a comparison to Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy from an AFC scout, and you could forgive the Panthers' first three opponents for thinking it was Lacy in the backfield when they played Pitt.

The bullish Conner (6-foot-2, 250 pounds) has rushed for 544 yards and eight TDs for Pitt (3-0), a school record for yardage in the first three games of a season; Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett previously held the record with 487 yards as a true freshman in 1973.

Conner already has eight rushing TDs, tying his total from last season; Pitt's single-season record is 22, by Dorsett in 1976, when the Panthers won the national title. And while it's dangerous to extrapolate after just three games, it also can be entertaining. Thus, Conner is on a pace -- assuming Pitt goes to a bowl -- to rush for 2,357 yards, which would be the third-highest total in FBS history.

Conner already is a bit more than a quarter of the way to the Pitt single-season record, which is 2,150 by Dorsett in 1976. No. 2 in a season at Pitt is Dion Lewis, with 1,799 in 2009, and third is Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, with 1,791 in 1987.

Conner has a streak of four consecutive 150-yard games (dating to the bowl game at the end of the 2013 season) and goes for No. 5 in a row on Saturday against Iowa. The Hawkeyes (2-1) have allowed just 197 rushing yards total in their first three games, but a big reason for that has been the opponents, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.

"Two of the teams that we played weren't as geared to trying to run the ball," he said during his weekly news conference. " ... Pitt is not throwing for much right now. There's a reason they haven't had to, but they can throw the ball. One thing for sure: They've demonstrated they can run it."

Ferentz thinks highly of Conner.

"He's a big back. He really does a lot of things very, very well," Ferentz said. "It's going to be a real challenge. He's strong. He's fast. He had a good ability to pick holes, see holes."

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.



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