Pittsburgh’s win over Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon eliminated Georgia Tech from contention for the ACC Coastal championship. The 52-22 win by the Panthers means that the worst that they can finish in league play is 5-3. From the Yellow Jackets’ perspective, that means that the best that they can do is tie Pitt for first place in the Coastal, a scenario in which they could not win a tiebreaker with the Panthers.
Tech beat Miami Saturday to improve to 4-3 in league play and 6-4 overall.
If both teams were to finish 5-3, there is not a tiebreaker between the two teams or those two teams and any combination of any of the other three Coastal teams that can still finish 5-3 in ACC play – Virginia, Duke and Virginia Tech – in which Georgia Tech could come out ahead of Pitt.
In a two-team tiebreaker, the head-to-head matchup is the tiebreaker, which would go to Pitt, which beat the Jackets September 15 in Pittsburgh.
In a tiebreaker of three or more teams, the first tiebreaker is common record. Pitt is 4-0 against the four teams (including Georgia Tech) that can also finish 5-3, so it would be impossible for the Panthers to not fare better than Tech in common record, as the Jackets’ record against any set of teams including Pitt will include the loss to the Panthers.
For example, if Georgia Tech, Virginia and Pitt finished at 5-3, Pitt would win by virtue of having the best common record (Pitt would be 2-0, Georgia Tech 1-1 and Virginia 0-2).
Pitt and Virginia are the only two teams in the division mathematically alive to win it, meaning that there will be six different Coastal champions in the past six seasons – Duke (2013), Georgia Tech (2014), North Carolina (2015), Virginia Tech (2016), Miami (2017) and either Pitt or Virginia this season. In the same span, the Atlantic Division has had two champions – Florida State (2013-14) and Clemson (2015-2018). In the short history of two-division conferences in FBS, no division has ever had six different champions in a six-year span.
With its sixth win, however, Tech has assured that it will play in a bowl game, which became a larger priority for the team than the Coastal title after losing to Duke to fall to 1-3 in league play. The Jackets can improve their standing with bowl officials by continuing to win. They play Virginia this coming Saturday and at No. 5 Georgia on November 24.
Coach Paul Johnson said following the team’s win over Miami – which broke a three-game losing streak to the Hurricanes – that the Jackets still have a lot to play for.
“We’re playing a lot better now than we were earlier in the year, and we’ve kind of dug ourselves out of the big hole we dug ourselves in,” he said.