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Pitt football’s non-conference schedule for 2021 completed

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The program's non-conference schedules through 2022 are now public

NCAA Football: Ohio at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt’s future non-conference schedules through 2022 were clarified on Wednesday with an announcement from UMass that revealed the Minutemen will travel to Heinz Field to play the Panthers on Sept. 4, 2021. The announcement served as the final piece of the puzzle for Pitt’s 2021 non-conference schedule, as its three other games were already known. The team's non-conference schedules for 2020 and 2022 were already known as well.

Pitt will kick off the 2020 season with a matchup with Miami (Ohio) at Heinz Field on Sept. 5. On Sept. 12, Pitt will travel to Huntington, West Virginia, to face Marshall before returning home on Sept. 19 to take on Richmond. Its final non-conference game next season will take place at Heinz Field, where Pitt will host Notre Dame on Oct. 17. The Panthers are 2-2 against the Fighting Irish at home since 2009. However, Pat Narduzzi has not beaten Notre Dame since taking over at Pitt.

The 2021 season will feature Pitt hosting UMass at Heinz Field in the season opener on Sept. 4. The following week, Pitt will travel to Knoxville to take on Tennessee in the first game of a two-year home-and-home series. Pitt will close out the month at home, with games against Western Michigan and New Hampshire on Sept. 18 and Sept. 25, respectively.

In 2022, Pitt will open up the season against West Virginia at Heinz Field on Sept. 3 with the 105th installment of the Backyard Brawl. Pitt leads the all-time series 61-40-3 but will be looking to avenge a 21-20 loss in the most recent game, which took place in Morgantown in 2011. Pitt will then host Tennessee on Sept. 10; travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to face Western Michigan on Sept. 17; then close out the non-conference slate with a matchup with Rhode Island on Sept. 25 at home.

Pitt’s non-conference schedule has been a controversial topic of late, as the team has drawn complaints for overscheduling and underperforming, with notable losses to Iowa, Oklahoma State, Penn State and UCF in the past five years. That point was further driven home by Brett McMurphy of Stadium, who recently pointed out that Pitt is one of two Power Five teams that has never finished its non-conference schedule undefeated in the past 29 years.

The 2021 slate, in particular, appears to be a golden opportunity for Pitt to finally shake the dubious distinction noted by McMurphy, as the only Power Five team on its non-conference schedule is Tennessee, which has played to a 59-74 record since 2008. The team has also reached new depths under current Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt, who could only muster four wins in 2017 and five in 2018.

After 2021, Pitt's prospects of non-conference perfection seem to take a hit, with some potentially tough matchups with former Big East rivals Cincinnati and West Virginia on the horizon. But no matter how those games pan out, Pitt appears to be better positioned for success in the next few years than it has been in the recent past.