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Early projections low for Pitt football in 2016

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama and Clemson just played for college football's championship earlier this week. Those two teams are atop the early projections for 2016 as well. Your Pitt Panthers? Not so much.

Pitt briefly climbed into the rankings this season for the first time in several years. However, the Panthers are on the outside looking in according to the early rankings for next year. ESPN, Fox Sports, USA Today, CBS Sports, and Athlon all left Pitt out of their Top 25 polls following the championship game.

Pitt being on the outside isn't a big surprise. The Panthers weren't ranked at the end of this year and are fresh off of an pretty ugly bowl loss to Navy. The team also lost its best offensive player, Tyler Boyd, to the NFL Draft, and several backups left the program, including 2nd string quarterback Chad Voytik. Pitt does return most of its offensive line, the starting quarterback and running back, and the bulk of the secondary and linebackers. Still, it's difficult to make a compelling case why the team should be ranked at this point.

However, also of note is that Pitt isn't appearing anywhere close to the Top 25, either. Athlon listed its next ten teams and Pitt didn't get in there. Ditto for Fox Sports, who listed their next five and left the Panthers out.

None of this is terribly surprising. Pitt took a step forward this year winning eight games in the regular season, but has a lot of questions heading into 2016 (I'll look at some of those later today).

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.