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So Pitt beat Gardner-Webb yesterday. I've got to admit, while I expected them to win, 55-10 isn't what I had in mind. I figured the Panthers would win by two, maybe three touchdowns, but to go all 49ers-Bengals on us? Man.
Pitt hasn't scored that many points in more than a decade, as Greg pointed out in his recap yesterday. That's more than the "High-Octane era, ya'll", the Dave Wannstedt era, and even the Larry Fitzgerald era.
The Panthers did something they don't always do, as evidenced by this - beat up on a weak team. Pitt was thoroughly dominating on both sides of the ball. It's not worth it for me to tell you how good Tino Sunseri was. Or how great the defense was, by giving up only three points. By now, you've no doubt heard all that already. The thing I'm most interested in?
Where does Pitt go from here?
We can point to this game and say it doesn't mean all that much, of course. That's partially true since Gardner-Webb is a very bad team at this point. But the Panthers also shut down a decent Virginia Tech team last week and one thing's clear - the team is rounding into shape.
It took a few games to get there. Over that span questions were asked and conclusions of all sorts were jumped. But now, two games after the Cincinnati mess, Pitt just looks better.
That's not to say the team will win the conference. Pitt was crushed by Cincinnati and Louisville and Rutgers both look formidable. But the Panthers should at least be able to contend - and that's simply not something we thought a few short weeks ago. Suddenly, games against teams like Temple, Syracuse, UConn, and even South Florida, look more winnable.
Next up is a solid Syracuse squad. The Orange don't look great, but one of their losses came to Northwestern by a single point and another came at the hands of then No. 2 USC. In that game against the Trojans, Syracuse looked pretty good and USC had to pull away late. Pitt has to go on the road to face the Orange and it might not be all that easy. But after two wins, how can you not feel better about this team's chances?
Questions remain. It's even possible we'll come back a few weeks later and say Pitt isn't doing all that well. But at this point in the season, at 2-2, it's hard to be too upset ... especially since the Panthers are getting better, not worse.