Pitt Football: Panthers’ 2015 Schedule Released By ACC


Nov 29, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Tyler Boyd (23) is unable to make a catch as Miami Hurricanes defensive back Antonio Crawford (21) during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC released the Pitt Panthers 2015-16 football schedule at 10 am Thursday. Early on the Panthers will have to be road warriors with five of their first seven games away from Heinz Field.

The Panthers will be put to the test in that its first three opponents each gave Pitt a loss in the most recent meeting.

Pitt’s first game will be a home contest Sept. 5 against Youngstown State, the team that surprised many when it upset the Panthers 31-17 in 2012 ruining then coach Paul Chryst’s debut.

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Its second game is the first on the road against Akron Sept. 12. Akron defeated Pitt 21-10 last season, which served as another surprise to Panthers fans.

Pitt will then face Iowa on Sept. 19. Iowa gave the Panthers its first loss of the 2014-15 season by a 24-20 score. The Hawkeyes have made 12 bowls in the past 14 years under coach Kirk Ferentz.

After a week off, its lone idol week of the season, the Panthers will travel Oct. 3 to face Virginia Tech. Pitt won a 21-16 game last season in a game that was televised by ESPN. The Panthers have won five of the last six games in this series.

The Panthers return home to start its ACC home schedule with an Oct. 10 game against Virginia. Pitt hopes to exact some revenge for a 24-19 loss.

Pitt then will take to the road against for an Oct. 17 battle against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets finished the season with an Orange Bowl victory and #7 ranking.

The Panthers then will have to play two games in six days with a road contest against Syracuse Oct. 24. This will be the 60th consecutive season these two teams have played. Then ESPN will televise the Oct. 29 contest against North Carolina and each of the past three meetings have gone down to the wire with a late score determining the winner.

Pitt then will be tested at home by Notre Dame Nov. 7. The Fighting Irish and Panthers took a year off in their rivalry after facing off for each year since 2008. Though Notre Dame has recently dominated this series, it was Pitt that won the last meeting by a 28-21 score.

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  • On Nov. 14 the Panthers will play its last road game against Duke. Fans can expect a high scoring affair as both teams have scored 106 points in the last two games while each has won one.

    Pitt will square off against Louisville Nov. 21 in a series that is tied at eight overall. The Panthers will conclude their regular season schedule against Miami Nov. 27. Pitt had lost the past eight meetings with the Hurricanes before prevailing 35-23 in the 2014 contest.

    All told coach Pat Narduzzi will be challenged by this schedule. Right out of the gate, Pitt faces three opponents it lost its most recent meetings with. Winning those games will send the right message to fans. Virginia Tech is a very tough team that defeated national champion Ohio State last season. The Hokies are well coached and will have both more experience and better health in 2015. Virginia came out of the gates hot in 2014, although faded late, but still will provide a tough challenge. Georgia Tech will be a very tough opponent and will provide a triple option offense that Panthers were not ready for last year. Syracuse and North Carolina will test Pitt in that the time in between the two games are short and the Panthers will have sore bodies. Notre Dame always provides a tough competition and will be looking to build off its Music City Bowl win over LSU. Keeping up with Duke offensively has been tough and that trend should continue in 2015. Louisville is a bit of an unknown in that coach Charlie Strong departed the school, however the Cardinals had a 9-4 season making the Belk Bowl. Pitt will face its fifth consecutive team that made a bowl game last season against Miami which lost the Independence Bowl. This schedule will force Pitt to be at its best.

    My take: Considering Narduzzi’s defensive background I am not concerned with that area, but the offense needs to rely on more than just tailback James Conner and wide receiver Tyler Boyd. This problem plagued the Panthers last season and will need to be corrected. I am optimistic because I believe Narduzzi is doing the right things. His coaching staff is actively recruiting and he is saying and doing all of the right things. How that translates is anyone’s guess, but his actions are very encouraging. This schedule will not be easy, but I think Narduzzi will have Pitt relishing the role of being underdogs.

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