PITTSBURGH — With calls to pack Heinz Field in advance of Pitt’s big game against Virginia Tech on Saturday to close the home part of its 2018 season, the Panthers fans mostly came though, bringing 44,398 through the gates.
It was the second-largest crowd of the season, behind the 68,400 that attended the Penn State game in September. It was the largest non-Penn State crowd since 47,425 saw the Panthers host Georgia Tech in 2016.
The crowd showing up on a day where the game-time temperate was 32, with the wind chill in the teens, and fell throughout, was noticed by the Pitt players, particularly the seniors that were playing their last game in a Pitt uniform.
“What I’ll miss most is definitely The Panther Pitt,” running back Darrin Hall said. “I have a couple of fans up there that text me after the game. They bring energy and just playing in an NFL stadium is amazing.”
With the home schedule completed, the Panthers drew a season average of 41,696, a 14.9 percent increase from 2017. The Panthers finished slightly down from 2016 — the last season that they had Penn State on the home schedule — when Pitt drew an average of 46,076 to Heinz Field.
Nationally, college football attendance was down from 2016 to 2017, with the year-over-year drop at the FBS level the largest in 35 years.