Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi heads into his ninth season at the helm by taking on FCS opponent Wofford, 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2 at Acrisure Stadium in the season opener.
The preparation for the 2023 season is much different than last year, when they took on rival West Virginia in the first edition in the Backyard Brawl in 11 years at home in front of the entire country on ABC for a Thursday night home opener. The game set a record for the most attended game in Pittsburgh sports history and ended in a classic, with defensive back M.J. Devonshire winning it late on a pick-six.
2023 is a different season and the Panthers will be taking on the Terriers, led by former Pitt offensive coordinator offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, who will serve as their head coach on Saturday. He took over as interim head coach last season after former Pitt football defensive coordinator, Josh Conklin, resigned after starting 0-5 in 2022. Watson finished with a 3-3 record, winning all three games at home, and earned the head coaching job following the season.
This is the first game that Pat Narduzzi will face a former assistant who is now a head coach of another team.
He is a perfect 8-0 against FCS teams and the Panthers have won their previous 10 games against FCS opponents. He is also 8-1 in season opener, which also happen to be home openers, with the lone loss coming to ACC foe Virginia in 2019.
Narduzzi said in a final media availability press conference on Thursday that he likes to play both a great rival and an FCS opponent. He showed respect to FCS schools, but said those games give you the chance to figure things out before a big game, instead of doing so against a team like WVU.
“You’d like a warm up, but I like the urgency that our team had last fall,” Narduzzi said. “We didn’t play our best game last year in the opener. There were some things we had to clean up the next week that we found out. You’d like to find out this week and be a lot cleaner up for Cincinnati. So if you made me give you an answer, I’d rather have an “easier game.” And nothing’s easy then going into a major game against a really good team in West Virginia.”
Pitt will use this game against Wofford to prepare for rivals Cincinnati, who come to Acrisure Stadium Saturday, Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. and then West Virginia on the road, Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m.