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Pitt back in bowl game hunt after wins over Duke, Virginia

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NCAA Football: Virginia at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

For a while, any sort of meaningful season for Pitt’s football team seemed out of reach. Only two games ago, they were 2-5 and faced what looked to be improved Duke and Virginia teams, which were virtual must wins.

The Panthers, though, won both games and now sit only a game under .500. At 4-5, the season still isn’t going all that well. But fans can at least shift talk away from the prospect of a two-win or three-win season to that of the postseason. The Panthers still have an uphill climb of sorts but with four wins, are at least in the bowl discussion again.

Pitt has three games remaining and one comes against a North Carolina team that is 1-8. I’m not ready to declare that a win yet, though. The Tar Heels have given Pitt fits over the years and just like I didn’t think Virginia and Duke were as good as their records, I don’t believe the Tar Heels are as bad as theirs. North Carolina has played a very difficult slate that’s already include Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Georgia Tech. This week, they nearly beat the top ten Hurricanes, losing by only five. They lost only five to Cal and by six to Virginia. They’ve played Louisville, who is down, but still decent. That game against North Carolina probably won’t be the cakewalk some think it will be.

After that, of course, the Panthers would need to find a way to beat either ranked Virginia Tech or Miami. Both seem like long shots today and probably still will at the time games kick off. But the Panthers have pulled off bigger wins before and if the defense keeps improving, you just never know.

Finally, consider that winning six games might not even be necessary as some five-win teams usually make the field. You never want to rely on that because it’s still a pretty rare occurrence but it has happened as there aren’t always enough eligible teams.

Pitt still has a difficult road to get to a bowl game but with two wins over Duke and Virginia, the Panthers are at least back in the discussion again.

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