With all the conference moves finalized, the Big East announced the 2012 football schedule today. For those wondering if Pitt and Syracuse would be screwed in their likely final Big East season, that doesn't appear to be the case in my opinion.
Schedule and breakdown after the jump.
September 1st: Youngstown State
September 6th: @ Cincinnati (Thursday)
September 15th: Virginia Tech
Septmeber 22nd: Gardner-Webb
October 5th: @ Syracuse (Friday)
October 13th: Louisville
October 20th: @ Buffalo
October 27th: Temple
November 3rd: @ Notre Dame
November 9th: @ Connecticut (Friday)
November 24th: Rutgers
December 1st: @ USF
Unlike last season where Pitt hosted two mid-week games, all of Pitt's home games will be on Saturdays, which will definitely help with attendance. Pitt gets a young Cincinnati team early in the season so it's possible the Panthers could take that one from the Bearcats. That game will also be Cincy's first game of the season.
The key stretch in conference play at first appears to be the last three games of the season. Pitt has a six-day window to prepare for UConn after leaving South Bend and the game is in East Hartford, where the Panthers have struggled. But the Panthers get a bye week to prepare for Rutgers before heading to Tampa for the regular season finale. It certainly is weird to not have Senior Day against West Virginia, but that is the cost of conference realignment.
But looking over the whole schedule, Pitt actually has a decent one. The Panthers got a lot of breaks this season. The top three teams figure to be Cincinnati, Rutgers, and Louisville. Pitt gets the latter two at home and faces what should be a young Cincinnati team early in the season in the Bearcats' first game. Part of me is actually somewhat surprised that the Big East didn't try to either backload Pitt's schedule or have all of Pitt's home conference games early in the season. But the teams that appear to be the contenders are spread out on the Panthers' schedule.
The Big East, as always, is wide open and there's no reason Pitt can't win all seven conference games. The only game where I would have first not given Pitt a chance was at Cincinnati, but Pitt gets them early so I think that may help. At Connecticut will be difficult, as will games against Louisville and Rutgers. I doubt this team will actually go 7-0 in Big East play, but I like Pitt against Syracuse, Temple, and USF. Pitt should also beat the two FCS schools and Buffalo. That leaves Pitt one win shy of bowl eligibility with the rest of their schedule. I think Pitt finds one more win somewhere and ends the regular season 7-5.