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Pat Narduzzi confident that Pitt will play on Sept. 12

The program has struggled to lock down a non-conference opponent

ACC Championship - Clemson v Pittsburgh Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Pitt’s non-conference football schedule has been in upheaval for several weeks, and the result is that, for now, the team has no non-conference opponent despite the best efforts of the program's leadership. However, Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi believes that will not be the case for long, and he shared that message with his players this week.

“We’re playing on the 12th,” Narduzzi told the team. “Expect to play on the 12th. We’re preparing for that day. Be ready to go.”

“We have to stick together as a team,” Narduzzi added in a media session on Friday. “We all have to believe there’s going to be a season on the 12th. I’m really, really confident. I’m not just blowing smoke. I’m very, very confident we will be playing on the 12th.”

Of course, it is currently unclear what team Pitt might play, and the possibilities are diminishing with each passing day. But Narduzzi says the delay is because Pitt is looking for a team that can be trusted to take the proper precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We have to find the right team,” Narduzzi said. “We’re not jeopardizing anything. Our kids’ safety is most important. We’re going to find someone we can trust and that we know is going to do the right thing.”

Pitt tried to schedule Miami (Ohio) on two occasions, but the game was bumped from the schedule by the ACC’s decision to start the season on the week of Sept. 7 and again when the MAC canceled its fall season.

Prior to that, Pitt’s Sept. 19 game against Richmond was the first to go when the Colonial Athletic Association canceled fall sports. Pitt’s matchup with Notre Dame was then altered to an in-conference game at the same time the Miami (Ohio) was first nixed and a Sept. 12 contest at Marshall was rendered unplayable, according to ACC rules. Those rules state that every ACC team is allowed to play one non-conference game in its home state.

As things currently stand, Pitt is set to begin its season with a matchup against Syracuse at Heinz Field on Sept. 19. However, it sounds as if new developments are on the horizon, and a new non-conference opponent for Pitt could emerge sometime in the next three weeks.