Saturday was a game that no one associated with the Pitt football program hoped would happen. The loss to Miami was a definite speedbump towards their ultimate goal of playing in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.
While it was a speedbump, in no way was it flat tire for this 2021 Pitt football season.
Losing isn’t fun and all the positive energy and national media attention surrounding the Pitt season to this point has been great. But it was just one loss.
Unfortunately, scanning fans comments on Twitter, Facebook or various message boards you’d think it was the end of the season as they resort to negativity and a glass is half empty mentality.
It’s funny that the prevailing comments from Pitt fans deal with “Same Old Pitt” and if you objectively look at things, that isn’t the case and here’s why.
*”Same Old Pitt” came into yesterday’s game ranked No. 17 in the country. The Panthers hadn’t been ranked inside the Top 20 during the season since 2009. That’s a change.
*”Same Old Pitt” was getting national exposure for their program like they hadn’t received since Larry Fitzgerald because of a Heisman Trophy candidate in Kenny Pickett. For the last couple weeks, Pickett and Pat Narduzzi were getting air-time on outlets like ESPN’s SportsCenter, CBS Sports Network, The Jim Rome Radio Show, College GameDay, etc. That’s something that hasn’t happened in years.
*This “Same Old Pitt” program has arguably the best quarterback in college football and is being talked about as an NFL first-round pick. Pitt’s last first-round draft pick was Aaron Donald in 2014 and the last first-round quarterback that the program produced was Dan Marino in 1983. Marino was drafted with the 27th pick, so Pickett has an opportunity to become the highest drafted quarterback in the history of Pitt football.
*The final thing that’s different is that despite the low chances of it actually happening, the Pitt Panthers were being talked about as a team that could make the College Football Playoffs at the end of October. How fun was it that Pitt was involved in meaningful games late in the season? Guess what, that will be the case for the rest of this season.
While Saturday’s loss to Miami was disappointing, it was just one loss and didn’t end Pitt’s chances of winning the ACC title. It just made their margain of error a lot smaller. I know all that talk and seeing the percentages of Pitt possibly playing in the College Football Playoffs was exciting but honestly, the realistic odds of it happening were very small.
I know this sounds dumb but in some ways, the loss to Miami could be good in the sense that the team will now have a singular focus and that’s of getting to Charlotte. All the talk of College Football Playoffs and Kenny Pickett Heisman are now gone but a big prize in still very much in reach.
Despite everything that’s happened this season, with four games left, Pitt still controls their own destiny. They hold a one-game lead over Virgina and Miami with four remaining games against Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and Syracuse. The most important one will be against Virginia on November 20 at Heinz Field.
The game that worries me most is the one against North Carolina but Pitt will be favorites the rest of the season and there’s no reason they can’t run the table.
If that would happen, Pitt would finish the regular season with a record of 10-2, which would be their first double-digit win season since 2009. If by chance, they do that and would win either the ACC Championship or their future bowl game, it would be their first 11-win season since 1981, which would once again not be “same old Pitt”.
The point of this is that while everything isn’t perfect and frustrating games still happen, things are changing for Pitt football, it would be nice if the fan base would change their same old narrative.