Pitt took care of business against North Carolina at Heinz Field last Thursday night, securing a crucial 30-23 overtime victory, and five days later, the team was rewarded with a three-spot bump in the College Football Playoff rankings, moving up from No. 21 to No. 18.
Pitt’s rise came at the expense of Auburn, NC State and Purdue. Auburn and Purdue both fell to 6-4 on the season and dropped out of the rankings. And NC State came out on the wrong side of a 45-42 result in an ACC tilt with Wake Forest, resulting in a four-spot fall from No. 16 to No. 20. As for Wake Forest, it moved up from No. 12 to No. 10 with the win and remains the ACC’s highest-ranked team at the moment.
The top four of the rankings went unchanged, as Georgia, Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State came in at Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 for the second straight week. However, the back end of the top 25 saw some change, as Houston came in at No. 24 and Mississippi State came in at No. 25. The two programs had not been featured in the rankings this season before Tuesday.
Pitt is also up to No. 20 in the AP poll, although that holds significantly less sway than the College Football Playoff rankings. The program also comes in at No. 19 in the coaches poll, which is less trusted still. But all three rankings have come to a consensus that Pitt is a top-20 team for the first time in the 2021 season.
Now, with two weeks remaining in the regular season, Pitt will look to maintain its top-20 status and finish strong in its matchups with Virginia and Syracuse. A win over Virginia could clinch Pitt its second ACC Coastal title in four years, and if Pitt can avoid a season-spoiling loss in Syracuse and claim the ACC crown after that, it could finish the season in the national top 10 — or perhaps even higher.