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Pitt's 2014 football schedule features difficult end

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt's 2014 football schedule isn't a cakewalk ... but it is favorable.

The Panthers will miss arguably the two most difficult teams in the conference in Florida State and Clemson, and they also get Virginia Tech at home this year. I'm on record as saying the Miami game on the road looks to be the only utterly unwinnable one, and Pitt has a really good shot to finish above .500 in the regular season for the first time in a while.

ESPN took a shot at trying to find the most difficult stretch of the Panthers' schedule and settled on their final three games against North Carolina, Syracuse, and Miami. I tend to agree with that.

You could make an argument for the three games immediately preceding those against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Division champion Duke. Those three are difficult but at least Pitt gets all three of those at home. Meanwhile, they'll face the Tar Heels and Hurricanes on the road.

Another factor is also that Pitt doesn't get a break in those final three games. In the preceding three, the Panthers get eight days off in between facing Virginia Tech (a Thursday night game) and Georgia Tech. There's no break between the gauntlet of the final three and at the end of the season when injuries tend to be an issue, Pitt won't have any extra time to get healthy.

Lastly, there could be quite a bit of pressure over those games as well. If Pitt stays on course and even overachieves a bit, many believe they could even contend for the Division. If that happens, the Panthers will have a lot on the line down the stretch.

For those reasons, it's pretty apparent to me that the final three games are going to be Pitt's most difficult stretch.

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