It's an eerily familiar position for Pitt. The Panthers have two games left, and they need one more win to become bowl-eligible for a sixth season in a row.
In 2011, the Panthers saved it for the last week in a 33-20 win over Syracuse at Heinz Field. Last year, Pitt dominated South Florida 27-3, capping a 4-2 mark in there second half of the season to become bowl eligible.
This time around, there's still a margin for error--they can afford to lose one of its final two to become bowl eligible. The players would like to get that taken care of this week.
"It means a lot," senior linebacker Shane Gordon said. "I would hate to go out, finishing without a bowl. I hope we do get that sixth win."
Interesitngly, a fifth-year senior in Gordon only knows of two places as bowl destinations--Charlotte and Birmingham. Gordon was a true freshman in 2009 when the team defeated North Carolina in the then Meineke Car Care Bowl (now Belk Bowl).
K'Waun Williams has only known one bowl destination in his Pitt career, that being Birmingham. Even if it's going to the same destination, he doesn't mind.
"If everybody just goes about ther business, it'll be all right," Williams said. "We're just focused on the team we got ahead of us, and that's Syracuse."
And it might come down to the defense. Pitt had two of its worst outings of the season in those first three games, allowing 533 yards to Florida State and 532 yards to Duke. In those first three games, Pitt was yielding an average of 445 yards per game. In the seven games since then, the defense has allowed 338.7 yards per game.
The seniors obviously want to have one more game, but they'll need help from some of the underclassmen like Lafayette Pitts. Pitts even put the task on his shoulders, saying he would do whatever it takes for him to improve to get his team into a bowl game.
"I've been trying to come in here and get better every day," Pitts said. "We still have two games to play. I've been very focused the last two weeks in practice, so I feel like it will do me some justice.
"It's going to mean a lot, not just our me, but for the seniors. That would be a nice thing for them, but also for coming in to next season. We have to finish this season strong for the seniors.