November 13, 2007

Pitt enters the stretch run

Let's face it: at 4-5 with the three toughest games of the season left on the slate, the odds are against Pitt's hopes of securing a bowl berth in 2007, since the Panthers are in a conference where four teams (Connecticut, WVU, Cincinnati, and South Florida) have already locked up bowl berths and two more (Rutgers and Louisville) have a good shot at doing the same over the final weeks of the season. The situation is only compounded by Pitt's remaining schedule, with games at Rutgers and West Virginia and a home game against South Florida.

Therefore, with the Big East's five bowl bids almost totally accounted for, the Panthers would need to win three straight games against the three toughest opponents on their schedule to climb to 7-5, at which point they would then sit and wait until the bowl selection committees invited Pitt instead of a 6-6 team with a conference tie-in.

Pitt's odds of running the table to get to seven wins? Probably not great, if 2006 was any barometer. That season, the Panthers started strong, taking a 6-1 record into the five-game home stretch. Needing just one win to send out seniors like Tyler Palko, Clint Session, and H.B. Blades with a bowl game, Pitt struggled and unceremoniously dropped the final five games. Not surprisingly, those five losses included Rutgers, South Florida, and West Virginia.

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