Panthers avoid emotional letdown, dominate Duke

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James Conner eludes a tackle during the second half Saturday night at Heinz Field. — GETTY

Pat Narduzzi heard the concerns about an emotional hangover, but he didn't care to listen.

"I know you guys worried about that. I really didn't," Narduzzi quipped during his postgame news conference Saturday.

His message for his players to forget about beating No. 2 Clemson last week sank in.

Pitt looked energized and confident Saturday at Heinz Field. The Panthers turned up an aggressive defense to match their prolific offense, overmatching and overwhelming Duke, which has just 57 healthy scholarship players.

It added up to a dominant performance led by James Conner's 101 rushing yards, Nathan Peterman's three touchdown passes and a suffocating defense in a 56-14 win over the Blue Devils in front of 35,425 fans on a cold and blustery evening.