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Pitt breaks into AP Top 25 with No. 23 ranking

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NCAA Football: New Hampshire at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt decisively defeated Virginia Tech 28-7 at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg on Saturday, improving to 5-1 on the season. And on Sunday afternoon, the Panthers found themselves in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time this season, as their performance garnered them 177 points and a No. 23 ranking.

Pitt joins fellow ACC programs NC State and Wake Forest in the AP Top 25, as the Wolf Pack checks in at No. 18 this week and the Demon Deacons are at No. 16. The only other ACC programs receiving votes are Clemson and Virginia. Clemson accrued 64 points this week and was on the brink of re-entering the rankings, and Virginia had one point.

Sunday marks the first time Pitt has been ranked since Sept. 27, 2020, when the team came in at No. 24. In 2020, Pitt was ranked for three weeks in September, cracking the AP Top 25 after a 55-0 rout of Austin Peay and maintaining its status with wins over Syracuse and Louisville before falling out of the rankings after a 30-29 loss to NC State. Pitt would not re-enter the rankings again in 2020.

While last season’s brief romp at the bottom of the rankings was a promising development at the time, there was a sense that nothing would come of it, as perennial juggernaut Clemson showed no signs of slowing down. And, indeed, the Tigers ultimately won the ACC title and wound up in the College Football Playoff, as expected. However, this time around, Clemson is no longer a lock to win the ACC, and Pitt has been the only team in the Coastal Division to take advantage of that fact.

Pitt will get a chance to move up in the rankings and prove that it is for real this coming Saturday, as it will face Clemson at Heinz Field. The matchup will be the fourth between Pitt and Clemson since Pitt joined the ACC. Pitt holds a 2-2 all-time record against Clemson, with its last win, a 43-42 upset, coming in 2016, when Pitt had an offense comparable to its current one. Clemson won the last contest 52-17 in 2020.