The Purbalite

Pitt’s magical late-season run leads to ACC Championship

Flynn Travers, Staff Writer

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If someone had told Pitt fans after Week 5 of the NCAA football season that the 2-3 Pitt Panthers — who were coming off a 51-6 loss vs. Penn State, a 45-14 loss vs. UCF, and a loss against a terrible UNC team — would win the ACC Coastal and be in the ACC Championship, it would have sounded insane.

The Panthers have risen from the grave to a 7-4 overall record, 6-1 in the ACC, and have clinched the ACC Coastal title and a date with No. 2 Clemson in the ACC Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.

This will be the first time since Pitt has joined the ACC that the Panthers will be competing in this championship game and the first time that they will meet Clemson since Pitt stunned them in 2016 with a 43-42 win at Clemson. Clemson would end up winning the national championship that year.

Looking back on the season, Pitt fans would signal the overtime win against Syracuse as the game that turned the season around. After, they would play Notre Dame (currently ranked third) and lose by just five, and then string together four straight ACC wins to take the Coastal.

This season seemed an improbable one, especially when fans were after Coach Pat Narduzzi’s head after early blowouts in the season. With Pitt’s recent football past, it seemed like the Panthers program was only going backwards.

Yet Narduzzi predicted this success on ACC media day, guaranteeing an ACC Championship appearance.

“Next time we’ll see you is in Charlotte for the ACC Championship game because we’re going,” Narduzzi said to the media. That statement definitely seemed far-fetched at the time for Panther fans after the team had a 5-7 season in 2017.

The team’s dominant rushing attack has been central to the success this year. Running backs Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall have gathered 1,994 yards together, with Ollison gaining over 1,000 yards this year.

Against Virginia Tech they rushed for 492 yards, and then they got 484 yards vs Duke. Having one of the most dominant offensive lines in the nation will certainly help a team to an ACC Championship.

Many fans and experts have already written Pitt off vs. Clemson  in the championship game. Given Pitt’s recent success against high-ranked teams, however, anything is possible.

For most Pitt fans, this has been a dream season and simply seeing the Panthers in the ACC championship will be a big reward. Hopefully, for the program and the fans, this will be only the start of Pitt’s success in the ACC.

 

About the Writer
Flynn Travers, Staff Writer

Flynn Travers is a senior and a third-year staff writer for the Purbalite. He plays sports and watches anything sports-related. He also enjoys watching...

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Pitt’s magical late-season run leads to ACC Championship