The Pitt football enters the 2020 season with as much optimism aroudn the program as there’s been since Pat Narduzzi was hired in 2015.
Despite the losses of Jaylen Twyman and Damarri Mathis, the Panthers defense is very talented and the offense has added some young playmakers in Jordan Addison, Jaylon Barden, Israel Abanikanda, Aydin Henningham and Kyi Wright.
The fly in the ointment for Pitt is what looks to be a challenging schedule with games against Louisville, Miami, Notre Dame, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Clemson.
The experts in Vegas have set the under/over for Pitt’s win total at 6.5.
Pittsburgh Sports Now surveyed the local media along with some members of the national media to get their opinions on what they expect from Pitt in 2020.
Chris Mack, 93.7 The Fan: 7-4
“Defense will dominate early despite injuries, Panthers will be 5-0 and ranked before losses to Miami, Notre Dame, VT, & Clemson.“
Chris Adamski, Tribune-Review: 7-5 (6-5 regular season with a bowl game win.)
Paul Zeise, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette & 93.7 The Fan: 8-3
Craig Meyer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 7-4
Jeff Hathhorn, 93.7 The Fan: 9-2
“9-2 for Pitt with that defense and a year together with Mark Whipple.”
Jerry DiPaola, Tribune Review: 8-3
“I can see Pitt opening the season in a flurry of victories with its first 5-0 start since 1991. That should place Pitt into the Top 25, but the mid-season stretch of Miami, Notre Dame and Florida State will be difficult. Too bad for Pat Narduzzi and his players that Heinz Field will be empty or mostly empty for the Notre Dame game. Pitt may take a 5-1 record into that game, and Irish may be 5-0. What a night on the North Shore that would have been. A victory against Notre Dame would give Pitt a decent chance of reaching the ACC Championship Game. I think Pitt will win one of those three and, right now, I’m pointing toward Florida State. I’m not sure about the Seminoles’ home-field advantage at Doak Campbell Stadium with only 15,000 people there, and FSU coach Mike Norvell (former Pitt WR coach under Todd Graham) has a lot of work to do rebuilding the program. That will push Pitt into another winning streak (three) before a loss at Clemson to end the regular season.”
Bob Pompeani, KDKA-TV: 6-5
Rich Walsh, KDKA-TV: 7-4
Andrew Stockey, WTAE-TV: 7-4
Brian Batko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 8-3
Matt Hayes, Stadium: 7-4
Bill Bender, The Sporting News: 7-4
“The fact Pitt is 10-6 in ACC play the last two seasons is undervalued, and the schedule is set up for a fast start. If the Panthers can pull out a victory against Louisville, then they could be 5-0 when the schedule gets interesting. The key will be getting at least a split in the double-barrel road trips to Miami and Florida State. Pitt-Notre Dame games are typically tight no matter what the records are. The best-case scenario would be a two- or three-loss team survives that when they get to Clemson at the end of the road — and the Panthers are the last ACC team to win in Death Valley. Pitt, however, still feels like a 7-4 team against that schedule.”
Ryan Donnelly, Freelancer, Ex-rivals: 8-3
Alex Kirshner, Moon Crew, LLC: 6-5
Brett McMurphy, Stadium: 6-5
Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports: 7-4
Guy Junker, WTAE-TV: 6-5
Ryan Recker, WTAE-TV: 7-4
Will Graves, Associated Press: 6-5
Dejan Kovacevic, DK Pittsburgh Sports: 8-3
Andrew Fillipponi, 93.7 FM: 7-4
“Defense can make up for the loss of Jaylen Twyman. Will be one of the best units in America. I’m concerned about the offense. Continuity helps. With Whipple. And Pickett. But I’m not in love with the offensive line. Or the skill position players. I don’t see a James Conner. Or a Tyler Boyd.”