On the final day of our roundtable series, we'll give you our predictions for the 2013 season. Can Pitt make a bowl game in Year One of the ACC?
Greg (oaklandzoo12): Pitt can definitely do at a bare minimum 6-6 with this schedule, but that would be a disappointment. With this schedule and this finicky fan base, anything less than an 7-5 record is going to create some problems with the fans and one of those wins must be FSU, ND, or Miami. If Pitt wants all of these new season tickets holders to come back for 2014, they probably need at least 8 wins and take 2 of the above 3. It's a tougher slate, I get that. But with the caliber of opponents Pitt has at home in 2013, they need to take care of business now, because the 2014 home slate is looking pretty bad outside of the Techs.
Pitt has no excuse losing to New Mexico, Old Dominion, or Navy. They really don’t. These are teams they should beat. Any ACC games, even Duke or Virginia, are up for grabs – I won’t fault them if they lose those because these are new teams, some in places Pitt hasn’t played. But realistically, Pitt should beat Duke and Virginia. After that, I think Pitt can find at least a win or 2 somewhere. Do I think they can beat one of the Big 3? Sure, we’ve seen this team get up for big games last season. But the success of this season will come down to whether Pitt can get up for the other games. You would hope that, this being the inaugural ACC season, the Panthers wouldn’t take any game lightly, but let’s just say I won’t be too surprised if Pitt loses to Duke.
Anson (CardiacHill): I'd say that Pitt can reasonably go anywhere from 6-6 to 8-4, so I'll land in the middle at 7-5. With seven home games, it's tempting to think Pitt can stretch that to nine wins, but I've got to see a lot more out of this team and head coach Paul Chryst. Don't forget that last year, Pitt absolutely refused to show up in games against UConn and Youngstown State. There was no reason to drop those games and who's to say the Panthers won't slip up a few times this season? I just have a hard time picking Pitt to suddenly win nine games after they've floundered in the Big East the last two seasons - there's simply nothing to support that.
Pat (Pat O'Mahony): Pain. No, seriously. This is going to be the toughest slate the Panthers have had in decades. It could be a painful season. It’s also going to be a hell of a lot of fun. I can see Pitt going 5-7, 6-6, 7-5, or 8-4. There’s so much to be decided. Like, I don’t know, who’s going to take the snap from center, hand the ball to Rushel Shell, and occasionally try and not throw interceptions. Whether that’s Tom Savage or Chad Voytik, they’re going to have to be comfortable in a hurry. I’m leaning Savage and his experience may help. Put me down for 6-6 right now, but a lot can change. In any case, I’m going to enjoy this season.
Jim (FloodCityPanther): I have the Panthers at 8-4 the more I look at it. I have the losses coming to Florida State, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Notre Dame. I'd lock Pitt into losing Notre Dame and Florida State, and I'd lock them into winning Navy,ODU, and New Mexico. The other seven games are difficult, but if the QB situations settles early, the defense lives up to their ability, and Rushel Shell has a big year, Pitt will do just fine.
Mike (mikeo90): Those who know me can attest that I’m a perpetual optimist when it comes to Pitt football. However, my four years at Pitt which have coincided with the most turbulent period in the program’s history, have finally jaded me a bit, so for 2013, I’m predicting 6-6. I know, I know, that’s not what you want to hear, but I’m going with another mediocre season for a few reasons. 1) The schedule is a lot more difficult than any other in recent years and 2) I think Matt House is a significant step down from Dave Huxtable at defensive coordinator. But, ultimately it’ll come down to quarterback play and I’m not convinced that Tino Sunseri graduating translates into an automatic improvement under center. I hope Tom Savage goes out and has a stellar senior year, but it’s important to remember that he hasn’t taken a snap in three years. He put up pretty good numbers at Rutgers as a freshman, but you really have to take that with a grain of salt since, again, that was three years ago. I’m pretty confident that Savage will be, at the minimum, a solid game manager, but beyond that we really don’t know. And if that’s all he is, 6-6 wouldn’t surprise me.
Bryan M: (FearTheStache): After seeing Paul Chryst and Brooks Bollinger turn Tino Sunseri into a serviceable quarterback, I have high hopes for what they can do with Tom Savage. That being said, the ACC schedule is no day at the park. For a team still trying to find itself, more than four wins in an eight game conference schedule will be hard to come by. Throw in three wins in non-conference play, and I believe the Panthers will find themselves going finishing the season with a 7-5 record and an at-large bid to the BBVA Compass Bowl.
Anthony (VictoryLights): The problem with predicting this coming season is the unknowns: new quarterback, new conference, and a new defensive coordinator. Plus, let’s face it; Pitt’s season was an absolute roller coaster last year. Chryst will be in his second season, which should help with some of the mental lapses we saw at times, and the game preparation should be more consistent. The new starting QB is likely to be Savage, who does have game experience, and the Chryst improvement factor at QB (I mean, did anyone think Tino would only throw 4 INTs all season with 2 of them being in the bowl game?) should help. That said, this isn’t the Big East anymore and the out-of-conference schedule isn’t full of Gardner-Webbs this time around. My prediction is 7-5, with a ceiling of 8-4. Either way, we’re not going to the BBVA Compass Bowl next year. It’s not possible, right? *Looks around nervously*
Even if it was possible, you don't think they would be dumb enough to take Pitt a 4th year, right?