Pitt dropped out of the AP Top 25 after its 38-34 loss to Miami on Saturday, but the team kept its dream of reaching the College Football Playoff alive, as it came in at No. 25 in the first College Football Playoff ranking, which was released on Tuesday night.
Nine weeks into the season, Pitt sits at 6-2 and has a decent shot at winning the ACC as the favorite to win the Coastal Division. With that said, Pitt will face competition from Atlantic Division representatives NC State and Wake Forest, which sit at No. 19 and No. 9 in the first College Football Playoff ranking. And with Clemson, which Pitt beat 27-17, missing from the list, the three programs are the ACC’s only chances at representation in the playoff.
Currently, the top four programs in the country, according to the College Football Playoff selection committee, are Georgia, Alabama, Michigan State and Oregon. And rounding out the top 10 are Ohio State, Cincinnati, Michigan, Oklahoma, Wake Forest and Notre Dame. All of that is subject to change over the coming weeks, and as things stand, Pitt could potentially climb the rankings by winning out and getting help from other programs.
The ideal scenario for Pitt would involve a steady rise up the rankings and a top-10 showdown with Wake Forest in the ACC championship game. If that coincided with losses by teams in the top 10, Pitt could feasibly sneak into the playoff. However, with Virginia the only formidable opponent remaining on Pitt’s regular-season slate, the Panthers’ playoff chances will depend on their ability to win the ACC championship and the selection committee’s willingness to show respect to the ACC in a down year.