Pitt has scheduled a home-and-home series with Central Florida to complete the team’s football schedules for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. The Panthers will visit UCF, located in Orlando, Florida, in 2018 and the Knights will come to Pittsburgh in 2019.
This comes after outgoing athletic director Scott Barnes said that the team would no longer schedule road games against teams outside of the Power Five conferences in October 2015. That seems to have changed, as the Knights are members of the American Athletic Conference.
This agreement was put in place before Barnes accepted the athletic director position at Oregon State in December, according to a department source.
Pitt now has four non-conference opponents scheduled in each year, filling out the schedule for each season.
The move makes a ton of sense for 2018, as Pitt already had Notre Dame on the schedule due to its agreement with the ACC and Penn State as part of the teams’ four-game series.
But filling the last date in 2019 has closed any opportunity of Pitt having an attractive home schedule. The final game of the Pitt-Penn State series will be played on the road and the move leaves the Panthers with two Group of Five teams and an FCS team at home in the non-conference schedule and lesser lights Virginia and Boston College coming to Heinz Field for conference play. Of the seven games on the slate, only Miami and North Carolina have proven to be consistent contenders.
Barnes had also sought to follow a pattern of scheduling two Power Five teams, one Group of Five team and one FCS team each season, which this move breaks for 2019.
It’s unclear if Pitt wished to continue that pattern and was unable to find willing opponents or if this move represents a shift in mindset for the program after the Panthers played the 21st-toughest schedule in the country in 2016, according to teamrankings.com.