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2011 Bowl Game Projections: Where Does Pitt Land In Rivals' Predictions? has released their way-too-early bowl projections for the 2011 football season.  Sure, it's only August 10th, but stuff like this provides for great blog fodder in the days leading up to the season, so why not.  The Rivals staff has made predictions for all 35 bowl games, including the BCS bowls, and Pitt (not surprisingly) is bowl-bound. But where?

Rivals predicts Pitt will play Georgia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City on December 30.  In its second year, the Pinstripe Bowl, played at Yankee Stadium, is the Big East's No. 4 bowl, meaning that it has the fourth pick of Big East teams -- it does not necessarily mean it will take the 4th place finisher. 

Initially I was a little surprised by this since I'm expecting Pitt to compete for the conference crown this year, but really, you never know how the bowl lineups will end up working out.  Pitt finished with a share of the Big East title last year and ended up falling until the BBVA Compass Bowl, the conference's No. 5 bowl, selected them.  One wildcard that affects Pitt's bowl slotting is Notre Dame.  When the Champs Sports Bowl, the Big East's No. 2 bowl, signed a four-year contract in 2009, they included a provision that would allow them to select the Irish once over a Big East team. 

With a Big East team going to Orlando for the facebook chat game last year, the chances of Notre Dame being selected are much higher this year.  Indeed, Rivals projects Notre Dame to play in the Champs Sports Bowl.  With Pitt picked -- accurately, I think -- to finish second in the conference, they could end up dueling the Fighting Irish for the Champs Sports Bowl berth.  Not a favorable match-up, considering how poorly the Panthers fans travel

The Belk Bowl (formerly the Meineke Car Care Bowl), the No. 3 Big East bowl, could pass on Pitt since they were there just two years ago, meaning the Panthers would likely fall to No. 4, the Pinstripe Bowl.  So, the possibility isn't all that unrealistic after all.  But again, keep in mind, these early predictions are meant for nothing more than stirring preseason buzz.  Take them for what they're worth.  Let's put these scenarios to rest and just win the Big East.  

Elsewhere around the conference, Rivals makes these projections:

West Virginia - Orange Bowl

South Florida - Beef O Brady's Bowl

Syracuse - Belk Bowl

Louisville - BBVA Compass Bowl

The BCS National Championship game, according to Rivals, will be Oklahoma vs. Alabama.