Game Information - September 27, 2014; Heinz Field; Game Time: TBA
Location - Akron, Ohio
Enrollment - 26, 596 (22,619 undergrads; 3,975 postgraduates)
Stadium - InfoCision Stadium 30,000 capacity
Notable Alumni - Dan Auerbach, lead singer of the Black Keys; Pat Carney, drummer of the Black Keys; Jim Tressel, former Ohio State head football coach.
Conference Affiliation - Mid-American Conference (MAC) (1992-present)
National Championships - None
Head Coach - Terry Bowden (6-18 2 seasons at Akron, 146-80-2 overall)
Series History - Pitt leads 1-0: Pitt won 35-0 in 1998.
SB Nation Site - Hustle Belt
Akron is coming off a solid 5-7 season in 2013. Five wins being described as "solid" is not something that happens often, but for a program like Akron, it is a big deal. In fact, Akron had three wins total in the previous three seasons combined. The Zips are led by a familiar name in Terry Bowden. The son of legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden has bounced around quite a bit in his career. Bowden had a nice run at Auburn in the 1990s, but finds himself coaching MAC football 15 years later.
Akron enjoyed their best season in quite some time, and a lot of that can be helped to having a coach like Bowden around the program. The Zips are fronted by an impressive young quarterback that figures to only get better. Kyle Pohl threw for 2,438 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore, and will lead the Akron offensive attack. Jawon Chisholm also returns on offense after leading the team in rushing with 869 yards and 8 scores in 2013. The Zips will also have their top two receivers back with Zach D'Orazio and L.T. Smith. The promise of the skill positions give Akron the reality of having a competitive offensive attack in the MAC.
Defense is where Akron struggled most in 2013, and it will be the biggest concern heading into this season. Akron returns all of their linebackers back, with Jatavis Brown leading the pack. They were 73rd in the country in scoring defense, the passing game is a place where they may struggle in 2014 with a few new starters looking to make an impact.
Overall, Akron is not the doormat they typically are. The Zips have a promising offense, and a few key pieces back on defense as well. Terry Bowden is a good coach, and for it only being his third year, he is already making an impact. By the time Akron will be in Pittsburgh, it will be their second trip to Pennsylvania this season, as they head to Penn State on September 6. The trips to Pennsylvania are a homecoming of sorts, because like most MAC schools, they recruit Pennsylvania heavily. Former Pitt commit, Chandler Kincade, will be one of two WPIAL quarterbacks backing up Kyle Pohl, along with Thomas Woodson of Gateway. The Akron game is the last of the non-conference games for Pitt, and falls in-between the big Iowa game and before the bulk of the ACC begins. In fact, some may call it a "trap game."