There will be 80 teams that make a bowl game following the 2017 college football season, and with a 4-6 record and a pair of highly-rated opponents in its future, it doesn’t look good for Pitt’s chances to be one of those 80.
But despite their Thursday-night setback against North Carolina, the Panthers do still possess a realistic path to a bowl game.
Pitt would have to find a way to beat one of its next two opponents and finish at 5-7. That will be a tall task, but not impossible. Miami nearly lost to North Carolina two weeks ago. Virginia Tech has lost two straight.
If the Panthers are able to pull off an upset, they’ll be in pretty good position to find a way forward. There are currently 61 six-win teams that have cleared the primary hurdle to bowl eligibility.
Including Pitt, there are 40 teams with four or five wins that have a chance to advance into bowl eligibility over the last two weeks of the season. Some of those teams will undoubtedly get to six wins and become bowl eligible.
But it’s unlikely that 19 of them will be able to do so, and that means that some 5-7 teams will more than likely get selected to go to a bowl game. The process for 5-7 teams to be invited follows the teams APR ranking.
APR is an academic ranking that rates how well schools keep student athletes on track to graduate. Pitt is currently 17th of the 40 four- and five-win teams in APR.
APR ranking of four- and five-win teams:
Air Force (4-6)
Georgia Tech (5-4)
Middle Tennessee (5-5)
Boston College (5-5)
Miami OH (4-6)
Kansas St (5-5)
Some 5-7 teams elect to not to attend a bowl game, though with just three senior starters, Pitt likely would not be one of those teams. Bowl teams are afforded an entire extra month of practice sessions, something that the young Panthers certainly could use.
“Yeah, (missing a bowl) is obviously a negative for everybody,” head coach Pat Narduzzi said Monday.
But Narduzzi doesn’t believe that it’s a deal-breaker for his young squad. The help the number of bodies he’ll have in the spring will be a big help.
“Coming to spring ball when you think about that last year, we only had this many guys, and this year because we’ll have a few less seniors, we’ll have more young guys,” he said. “It’ll be a good spring. So that’ll help us.”
Pitt opened as a 16.5-point underdog for Saturday’s 12:20 p.m. kickoff at Virginia Tech. The Panthers will then host unbeaten No 2. Miami at noon on Nov. 24. But the Panthers aren’t calculating the odds required to earn a bowl berth.
“We know we can play really good football,” linebacker Seun Idowu said Thursday. “We’ve got the guys, we’ve got the talent and everything to do that. We’ve just got to keep our heads up and keep going from here. I believe in our team and I believe in our players, I believe in our coaches and I believe in everybody on our staff. We can definitely get it done from here.”