We’re two days away from the start of the 2017 Pitt football season. Will the Panthers take the next step and get to nine wins? With all the inexperience will they take a step back?
Pittsburgh Sports Now polled local media members plus our staff gives their predictions on Pitt’s 2017 record.
Local Media’s Pitt Predictions:
Paul Zeise (Post-Gazette/93.7 “The Fan”: 9-4
Josh Taylor (KDKA-TV): 8-5
Chris Adamski (Tribune Review): 8-5
Jeff Hathhorn (93.7 “The Fan”): 8-5
Adam Crowley (ESPN Radio 970 AM): 7-6
Andrew Fillipponi (93.7 “The Fan”): 7-6
“Pitt is one of the least experienced teams in America on defense and the non-conference schedule is a challenge.”
Rob Rossi (Upgruv/Trib Live Radio): 5-7
Rich Walsh (KDKA-TV): 7-6
Bill Bender (Sporting News): 8-4
“It’s all about momentum for Pat Narduzzi in his third season. Max Browne should settle in, and the running game will be there. Will the defense be more consistent? If the Panthers can pick off Penn State and/or Oklahoma State in non-conference play early, then that momentum would carry over into the ACC Coastal race. How much of that can Pitt build heading into decisive games against Virginia Tech and Miami to end the season? That’s the challenge.”
Bob Pompeani (KDKA-TV): 7-6
Andrew Stockey (WTAE-TV):
“A new offensive coordinator. A new quarterback. A secondary with nowhere to go but up. A young team trying to maintain its recent string of 8-win seasons. It’s going to be tough but under this coaching staff, Pitt has been able to pull out some unexpected wins and should do so again. The question now is can they avoid the mind-blowing losses (remember North Carolina).
Looking at the schedule, I think the Panthers will go 5-3 in the ACC, but thanks to consecutive games against powerful top 10 teams (Penn State and Oklahoma), their non-conference record will be no better than 2-2. I see a 7-5 season in 2017, enough to get them to the post-season and be a building block for a young team which should be back at that 8-win mark or better in 2018.”
Chris Dokish (Panthers Prey Blog): 8-5
Lance Lysowski (DK Pittsburgh Sports): 8-5
Anson Whaley (Cardiac Hill): 8-4
Chris Peak (Panther-lair): 8-5
PITTSBURGH SPORTS NOW’S PREDICTIONS
Scott Elliott (Pgh Sports Now): 8-5
“It’s Pat Narduzzi’s third season and many highly talented recruits will be stepping into significant roles this year. The Panthers have allowed more than 30 points per game in Narduzzi’s first two seasons, and you hope to see Pitt take a step forward on the defensive side of the football. Pitt’s schedule is both front-loaded and back-loaded with a very manageable stretch in between. If the Panthers can build some momentum starting with Georgia Tech in week four, Pitt could position itself for a strong closing kick—think eight, possibly nine wins—against UNC, Virginia Tech, and Miami.”
Mike Vukovcan (Pgh Sports Now): 9-4
Joe Steigerwald (Pgh Sports Now): 8-5
“Youth and an brutal out of conference schedule could equal trouble. And the ACC won’t be much easier. Georgia Tech and NC State aren’t pushovers, VT and Miami are always good and Pitt can’t beat UNC for some reason. Pitt probably goes 7-5 during the regular season but this year they finally win a bowl game to keep Narduzzi’s 8-5 streak alive.”
Harry Psaros (Pgh Sports Now): 9-3
Alan Saunders (Pgh Sports Now): 8-5
Nick Gordon (Pgh Sports Now): 10-3
“Pitt has a real opportunity to take a big leap in the third season of the Narduzzi era. For Pitt to take that step to the next level, they will need to stay healthy and weather the storm early while Jordan Whitehead and Quintin Wirgins are both suspended. The X factor this year will have to be the defensive line, and with the talent in that group it is very possible for them to be the surprise in the ACC.”
Dan Kingerski (Pgh Sports Now): 8-4
Francis Guarneri (Pgh Sports Now): 8-5
“It is difficult to predict how the 2017 season will unravel with so many young, but potentially impressive, players set to assume marquee roles. With Penn State, Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech awaiting Pitt in September, a 1-3 start to the season is a realistic possibility. Even if such a start unfolds, though, it will not ruin the season.
Offensively, the retooled and reshuffled offensive line will dictate how well quarterback Max Browne and the Pitt running backs perform in 2017. If the offensive line can approach the success it achieved in 2016, an upset over Penn State or Oklahoma State is achievable. And on defense, I see a unit with the potential to become special. The D may struggle early in the season as future impact players like Rashad Weaver gain experience, but by the end of the season, people will be saying, “Man, this is really starting to look like a Pat Narduzzi defense.
Overall, I foresee an 8-win season for Pitt, with Pat Narduzzi earning his first bowl victory. Pitt has exceeded my expectations in each of its two seasons under Narduzzi, though, so I won’t be surprised if the Panthers win 9 games instead.”