While Pitt’s 30-28 loss last Thursday at UConn seemed as debilitating as any this season, the Panthers are still in total control of the Big East.
At 5-4 overall and 3-1 in the conference, Pitt is assured the conference crown by winning out. Pitt has tiebreakers over Syracuse, Rutgers and Louisville, with remaining games against South Florida Saturday, West Virginia Nov. 26 and Cincinnati Dec. 4.
UConn is the only team that currently holds a head-to-head tiebreaker against the Panthers, but needs to win out and see Pitt lose at least one game for a chance at the Big East title.
All the equations, scenarios and guessing mean little to Pitt. The Panthers are focused solely on USF and believe that if they sustain that focus through the rest of the year they’ll end up where they want to be.
“That means nothing to us,” Wannstedt said of his team’s one-game lead in the Big East. “Right now we’ve gotta find a way to win a game. All that other stuff … no. We gotta win a game and get bowl eligible and go from there.”
Pitt can become bowl eligible with a win at South Florida Saturday, but it knows a win will only be made possible by limiting mistakes.
Thursday’s loss at UConn was full of miscues that cost the Panthers. Allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown, fumbling a kickoff, throwing two interceptions and allowing 200-plus yards rushing to Jordan Todman were just a few of their flaws.
“We all know that there’s no excuses for what happened in the game,” Jason Pinkston said. “We had two weeks to prepare and we made too many mistakes. It showed and we lost the game. There’s no excuses coming from our locker room. Guys know that it’s time to get back out there and bounce back.
“We have three games left and we need them all.”
According to Pinkston, it was Pitt beating Pitt Thursday night – something the Panthers don’t plan on doing again.
“It came down to us not them,” he said. “We made the mistakes, covering the kick or the passes, missing a blitz or missing a tackle. That’s on us. It wasn’t what they did it was what we did. So we gotta turn ourselves around.”
*All these scenarios are based on each team winning its remaining games and the help they need to win outright.
Louisville, Cincinnati and Rutgers all have three Big East losses and are seemingly out of the championship conversation.
Win out. That’s it. As you’ll notice by reading on, the rest of the contenders have a mess on their hands.
USF has a more complicated formula. First, the Bulls need help with a UConn win against Syracuse. They also need WVU to drop at least one game. If that all happens and USF beats Pitt and UConn, the Bulls are conference champs.
Syracuse has defeated both WVU and USF, which helps. However, Syracuse lost to Pitt, meaning the Orange need the Panthers to lose two games and beat UConn themselves.
UConn benefits from its two conference losses being to Rutgers and Louisville because both will probably not factor in to a tiebreaker. It also benefits because its two conference wins are against West Virginia and Pitt — two teams likely to be there at the end. If UConn wins out and Pitt loses one game or more the Huskies are Big East champions.
UConn has to be West Virginia’s best friend for the Mountaineers to win the Big East. While the ‘Eers need to win out, they also need to see UConn defeat Syracuse but lose to of either USF or Cincinnati or both.
Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog