The ACC announced its 2014 schedule on Wednesday afternoon. Last year, it was a big for Pitt in the sense they were in their first year in the conference. Things took an even bigger hold when it was announced Pitt would open the 2013 season at home, on Labor Day, against Florida State.
There might not be that Labor Day type of opener, but the Panthers certainly have a few matchups with some sort of prestige.
Pitt opens the 2014 season at home against FCS opponent Delaware. The Blue Hens have won three FCS National Championships, dating back to 2003.
Between Pitt, the Steelers and the Pirates, there have been few conflicts since Heinz Field and PNC Park both opened in 2001. On August 30, the Pirates are scheduled to play a 4:05 game that was scheduled for TV purposes.
With the 4:05 start, it creates a tricky situation for Pitt, regardless of if the game starts before or after the Pirate game.
"We kind of thought we'd play at 1 pm that day," Pitt Athletic Director Steve Pederson said. "There's really no time we can play that would impact a 4:05 game. It's just a unique time. Under no circumstances, would we kick before noon. We'll try to work things out."
Playing on Labor Day is no option, as Pitt plays the following Friday night at Boston College. Typically, because of the number of high schools in the area, Pitt is opposed to playing home Friday night games. Pitt has played a number of away Friday games in recent years, most recently at Connecticut in 2012.
Pitt last played Boston College in 2004, a 20-17 Pitt win in overtime. Boston College last beat the Panthers in 2001, 45-7. Pitt won the final three games in its annual series, before Boston College moved to the ACC.
Pitt stays on the road, traveling to Miami for a game with Florida International on September 13. They return to Heinz Field on September 20 to take on Iowa. Interestingly, Iowa travelled to Pitt on September 20, 2008, a 21-20 Pitt win. The Hawkeyes had on of its biggest comebacks in school history the last time the two teams met, a 31-27 Hawkeye win, against then head coach Todd Graham.
Akron comes to Heinz Field the following week, led by head coach Terry Bowden. Pitt goes back on the road on October 4, as they head to Virginia. The Panthers won the inaugural ACC meeting last September, 14-3.
"I think Thursday night games at Heinz Field have been pretty exciting for us," Pederson added. "Especially an opponent we've had a high regard for."
Pitt opens the month of November at home against Duke. The Blue Devils won the ACC Coastal Division in 2013, but lost to Pitt on September 20, 58-55.
After a second bye week on November 8, Pitt travels to North Carolina on November 15. The regular season home finale is on November 22 against Syracuse. The regular season final is November 29 at Miami. Pederson added the Miami game could become the annual regular season finale.
"We were kind of hopeful that would be the beginning of an annual game," Pederson added. "I guess we'll have to see if that becomes the case or not. I think that's an exciting way to do it. I think Miami has been of the same mindset."
Notre Dame will return to the schedule in 2015. Pederson said there a ongoing talks to keep the Pitt-Notre Dame game as an annual series.
Tickets are on sale for the 2014 season, immediately. There are a couple of minor changes in terms of buying season tickets. The season ticket cap is set for 45,000. Fans have an additional option of buying tickets in three-game plans, and can pick any three games they want.
The idea came from multiple fan surveys, particularly fans coming in from out of town. A lot of fans wanted to come in for certain games, but because of travel, could only go to a few. The separate three-game plans make it more flexible.
"In some cases, some people wanted to be a part of the experience, but couldn't commit to full season ticket plans," Pederson said. "You can pick any three games, pricing depends on which games you select. It came directly from fans. A lot of them were from younger alums that were out of town, but couldn't necessarily commit. It was based on feedback from fans."