With Pitt football’s season coming to a close on a high note–barring a miracle bowl birth–yesterday at Heinz Field, fans have already started thinking about next year.
A victory over the #2 ranked Miami Hurricanes ended the season on a high note and the play of freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett and a very young Pitt defense has the Panther faithful asking how high the program can climb in 2018.
So the question is, who’s on the Panthers’ schedule in 2018?
As Pat Narduzzi has stated, Pitt’s goal is to win an ACC Championship.
As part of their ACC schedule the Panthers will face conference foes Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Syracuse at home and Miami, North Carolina, Virginia and Wake Forest (their ACC crossover game) on the road.
Based on this year’s records, that certainly looks like a favorable slate of games. Miami on the road will be very tough and Virginia Tech is always a challenge, but every one of those games looks winnable and it’s not unreasonable to think the Panthers could challenge for an ACC title with a 5-3 or 6-2 record if Kenny Pickett and the defense continues to progress.
Now for the bad news. The Panthers have a brutal out of conference slate.
The 2018 season starts off easy (at least in theory) with Pitt opening up against FCS school Albany at Heinz Field on September 1st.
Then comes the hard part.
The week after, Penn State comes to Pittsburgh for the first time since “42-39” in the third of four scheduled meetings between the schools. (The Panthers will travel to Happy Valley in 2019 to wrap up the series.)
Pitt then begins its ACC schedule (dates and times to be determined).
On September 29th, the Panthers play their third non-conference game against this year’s Group 5 darlings, the undefeated University of Central Florida Knights. Now, fortunately for Pitt, UCF will most likely they will have a new coach as Scott Frost will almost certainly be snatched up by a Power 5 school like Florida or Nebraska between now and the start of next season. But the team looks to be a big test for the Panthers either way, especially on the road.
Then, two weeks later on October 13th, Pitt will face another huge challenge as they travel to South Bend to play the venerable Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.
That’s the current #13 team in the nation (UCF) the #12 team (PSU) and the #9 team (Notre Dame) with two of the three taking place on the road. Even with potential drop-offs in play by all three schools, it’s not going to be easy for the Panthers.
Here’s the entire Pitt Panthers 2018 schedule (ACC games are TBD):
Sept. 1: Albany
Sept. 8: Penn State
Sept. 29: at UCF
Oct. 13: at Notre Dame
ACC Home: Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Syracuse
ACC Away: Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest