The Pitt basketball team went out and laid an egg last night against Louisville. So, in some ways, a bit of football news couldn't have come at a better time.
The Panthers' 2017 football schedule was released on Tuesday and if you haven't seen it yet, well, here it is:
- September 2 - Youngstown State
- September 9 - at Penn State
- September 16 - Oklahoma State
- September 23 - at Georgia Tech
- September 30 - Rice
- October 7 - at Syracuse
- October 14 - North Carolina State
- October 21 - at Duke
- October 28 - Virginia
- November 9 - North Carolina (Thursday night)
- November 18 - at Virginia Tech
- November 24 - Miami
Times will be announced later and, in the case of ACC games, as the season progresses.
Overall, it's not an absolute bear of a schedule. That's good because Pitt will be breaking in a new quarterback, new starting running back, five of their nine starting offensive and defensive linemen, and a new kicker, among other things like, you know ... an offensive coordinator.
The chance for a slow start exists and 1-3 isn't even out of the question, to be honest. I expect Pitt to grab at least a split in its first four games, but a Georgia Tech team that returns a lot shouldn't be ignored - especially because they've played Pitt closely as it is and it's on the road.
The middle of the schedule is where the sweet spot is. The team can get fat and conceivably even grab five straight wins. Should they do that, the last three games become all kinds of interesting and will determine if it's a great season or just a halfway decent one. I'm not saying all of those games are gimmes but given what Narduzzi has done in beating teams he should have, there's a solid chance of winning all of them.
The good news there, of course, is that Pitt gets two of those final three games at home, making things a bit easier. And along those lines, Pitt also has seven home games as opposed to only five on the road.
All told, I'm inclined to give Pitt another eight-win regular season in my way-too-early prediction. It will be Narduzzi's third season, so he'll have had his first recruits for a third year. But I'm not convinced it's the Panthers' time to break through just yet. Pitt may still be another season away from challenging for a double digit win total. But maybe he gets there a little ahead of schedule and wins more than I see right now. They won eight games this year, after all, with what looks to be a more difficult slate.
What do you think? How many regular season wins do you see for the team in 2017 with this schedule? Vote in the poll tomorrow.