On the bye week, I found myself asking this question - at what point would I be satisfied this season? As I debated the answer, another question entered the picture - what would constitute a successful season?
These questions are as different as night and day in my opinion. Here's what I came up with.
At this point in the season, 9-1 has obviously exceeded all expectations. No reasonable Pitt fan could have predicted this kind of overachieving success. Even Rocky Balboa thinks Pitt has played over their heads. And even if you argue that Pitt's talent could have been enough to get them to 9-1 (which I think it is), how many times has Pitt disappointed over the years, losing to teams they should beat, etc? They even couldn't resist the urge to play beneath the competition once this year, but at least it's only happened once. At this point, I think it's pretty clear that only a trip to the BCS game would be satisfying. I also think if they got there and had another apocalyptic collapse (see Utah) by, say, losing to Alabama by 30, that would be a huge disappointment. Another blowout in a BCS game would really look bad for Pitt and help negate so much of the positive energy that's been built up.
Regarding a successful season, Pitt desperately needs to get to ten wins. Even if they lose to WVU AND Cincinnati, but can come back and win a bowl game, to get to ten wins would be nice. Admit it - coming into the season, many fans would have probably settled for nine. Sure it may be harder to call it a success if Pitt happened to drop both of their remaining games, but looking at the big picture, a 10-3 season isn't so bad. Both remaining games are winnable but it's possible to lose both as well. And one more thing...
While it's nice that the Gator Bowl is back in play for the conference with Notre Dame doing their best 1951 L.A. Dodgers impersonation, remember that Pitt can still very easily fall to third. Losses to the couchburners and Cincy coupled with a WVU win over Rutgers will make that a reality. Additionally, the Gator Bowl can also select a 7-5 Notre Dame team over a 9-3 Big East team. So if WVU happens to finish second, they could still be bumped to the Car Care Bowl, forcing Pitt to, *gulp*, the PapaJohns.com bowl.
It's very important that Pitt win at least one of those games. While a BCS bowl is the ultimate goal, a Gator Bowl bid wouldn't be the worst thing in the world...
That would be the Car Care bowl.