New head football coach Pat Narduzzi is hoping to compete in his first season on the job. While the Panthers have a manageable ACC schedule, part of the reason he may find that challenging is due to a somewhat difficult out of conference slate.
That was recognized by The Sporting News recently, as they tabbed Pitt's non-conference schedule as the tenth best/most difficult in the country. It's also noteworthy that four of the teams in the top ten were from the ACC ... and three of those were in the top five (No. 1 Virginia, No. 4 Virginia Tech, and No. 5 Georgia Tech).
I haven't gazed at the entire nation's out of conference schedules, but looking at the top ten, Pitt's appears to be right up there in degree of difficulty.
As we know, the Panthers will face Notre Dame at home but Iowa on the road, in addition to their games against Akron and Youngstown State - two teams that have beaten the school in recent memory. The Youngstown State game is not only not a gimme based on the fact that the Penguins beat Pitt a few years ago, but because they also have a new head coach - Bo Pelini, who averaged 9.4 wins a year in his seven full seasons at Nebraska.
We're too early to start making predictions, but a 3-1 record in the non-conference portion of the schedule would be ideal for Narduzzi and company. 2-2, of course is quite possible but would be somewhat disappointing since it would mean the team either laid an egg in a game they should have won and/or failed to defeat one of the better teams on their schedule.