Pittsburgh beat Duke 31-13 to keep its Coastal Division hopes afloat. The Panthers need to win out and have North Carolina lose twice to make it into the ACC championship game. That might be a long shot, but Pitt does remain mathematically alive. Let’s take a look at how it happened:
What the win means for Pitt: Not only do the Panthers have an outside shot at the Coastal title, they now have seven regular-season wins, their highest total since 2010. They also finish the season 5-1 on the road, their best mark away from home since 2008. Pittsburgh took advantage of some weaknesses in the Duke defense as Qadree Ollison ran for over 100 yards and Nate Peterman put together one of his best games since taking over as the starting quarterback. But he had help from his teammates. Zach Challingsworth wrestled for the ball on his 13-yard touchdown reception, then had another nice catch on a 33-yard completion later in the third quarter. J.P. Holtz made an athletic grab on his 3-yard touchdown reception, and so did Dontez Ford. Notice somebody missing? Tyler Boyd didn’t have one of the top three catches of the day but he did have over 100 all-purpose yards again, so he was a key contributor, too. Pitt closes out with Louisville and Miami at home, so a nine-win season remains a possibility.
What the loss means for Duke: The Blue Devils have now lost three straight since the devastating end to the Miami game on Halloween night, losing to North Carolina and Pitt by double digits. Though they didn't give up 66 points, they had a hard time stopping Pitt on third down. Parker Boehme got the start in place of injured Thomas Sirk but the same inconsistencies that have plagued the Duke offense showed themselves again. It's tough to win games when you trade field goals for touchdowns, and when you allow 50-plus carries for over 250 yards in a game. Three weeks ago, Duke sat atop the Coastal as a Top 25 team. Now the Blue Devils are reeling. They close with games against Virginia and Wake Forest so they can still finish with eight wins.
Top play: Challingsworth's touchdown grab was the best of the day, as he fought off the defender for his first score of the season.
Uh, what? Duke threw incomplete from the Pitt 2 in the first half, giving the Blue Devils an opportunity for a chip shot field goal. But coach David Cutcliffe opted for the fake. Nicodem Pierre threw incomplete on the jump pass. Though the play might have ultimately proven inconsequential, it was an interesting choice to make.