Pitt’s 2018 football schedule was released on Wednesday afternoon, and the takeaway is that the upcoming season figures to be a difficult one.
The Panthers will take on four teams that finished with 10 wins or more and ranked among the top 15 in the final AP poll in 2017, including Penn State, UCF, Notre Dame and Miami. To make matters worse, Pitt plays three of those four teams on the road, with the lone exception being the matchup with Penn State, which will be played at Heinz Field on Sept. 8.
With that said, three of those tough matchups are against non-conference opponents, so any damage done in those games won’t hurt Pitt’s standing in the ACC. And while wins will certainly be tough to come by against that group of four, Pitt has proven capable of toppling goliaths within that group in the past, notching wins over Penn State in 2016 and Miami in 2017.
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi is well aware of the hurdles the program will face in 2018, and he discussed the schedule in a statement released Wednesday.
“This is about as challenging a schedule as you’ll find across college football,” he said. “Our non-conference schedule includes two Power Five opponents and a UCF team that went undefeated. And I think the road to the ACC title game will be a real grind in both divisions. We know firsthand how ultra-competitive the Coastal has been with five different champions the past five years.”
Despite the schedule’s challenges, Pitt has an opportunity to benefit from its tough slate. For one, a home win over Penn State could give Pitt a big leg up in attracting local talent. On top of that, the coaching staff has spent a lot of time recruiting in talent-rich Florida, and the added visibility from games in Orlando and Miami could pay dividends on that front.
There’s also a trade-off with the tough road games, and that’s that Pitt will face beatable opponents at Heinz Field in 2018. The Panthers will host Duke and Syracuse, who they typically excel against, and Virginia Tech, a team that is 1-4 in its last five trips to Pittsburgh. But first, they’ll kick off the season on Sept. 1 against Albany, an FCS team that went 4-7 in 2017.
View the complete schedule below.
- Sept. 1: vs. Albany
- Sept. 8: vs. Penn State
- Sept. 15: vs. Georgia Tech
- Sept. 22: @ North Carolina
- Sept. 29: @ UCF
- Oct. 6: vs. Syracuse
- Oct. 13: @ Notre Dame
- Oct. 27: vs. Duke
- Nov. 2: @ Virginia
- Nov. 10: vs. Virginia Tech
- Nov. 17: @ Wake Forest
- Nov. 24: @ Miami