PITTSBURGH —- Duquesne will open its 2018 season at UMass on Saturday, one of two FBS opponents on the Dukes’ slate this season.
This week, news also came out that the Dukes have scheduled a future non-conference game with West Virginia during the 2023 season.
Since Duquesne moved back into football’s second-highest level in 1993, the Dukes have not regularly played FBS schools, despite almost every FBS team playing at least one FCS team per season.
The reason is that the NEC, Duquesne’s football conference, limits teams to 45 scholarships. For a game to count towards NCAA bowl eligibility, a defeated opponent must have at least 57 players on scholarship.
There are ways that Duquesne can qualify, by granting need-based scholarships that are allowed outside the NEC’s athletic scholarship restriction. If the Dukes have done so (almost no Power Five team would play an opponent that wouldn’t help them get bowl eligible), then it seems to reason that more games against top-level opponents could be in the cards.
Might that even include a gridiron version of the City Game between Duquesne and Pitt? Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi seemed receptive to the idea when asked about it on Wednesday.
“I think it would be cool,” Narduzzi said. “That’s a good football team, there’s no question. I think we could go out of state and go play somebody, but I think any time you can keep it in-state, we’ve talked about that other in-state rivalry, I think it’d be great for the City of Pittsburgh to go play a Duquesne or a Robert Morris, I don’t care who it is. We can go play Youngstown State, why not play Duquesne? I have no problem with that. I have a lot of respect for who they are. I know the type of recruiting they do and they’ve got a good football team.”
The Panthers and Dukes have played seven times in their history, with Pitt leading the all-time series, 5-2. The teams haven’t met since 1939 — a 21-13 Duquesne victory. In 1936, Duquesne was Pitt’s only loss as the Panthers finished 8-1-1.