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Schedule and Odds
Pittsburgh is yet another one of the teams that will be competing for the Coastal division. The Panthers finished 3-5 in their first ACC season and struggled to do anything outstanding on either end of the field. Head coach Paul Chryst is in his third year with the team and will have some of the players that he recruited to work with. That means they’ll be full of youth with only 11 returning starters from last year’s squad.
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Chad Voytik will take over as starting quarterback for the first time in his career. Chryst likes him a lot and should mold the offense around his dual-threat ability. Voytik couldn’t be happier with his receiving core as Tyler Boyd (1,174 yards, 7 TDs) is back in the mix along with Manasseh Garner and tight end J.P. Holtz. Running backs James Conner (799 yards, 8 TDs) and Isaac Bennett (797 yards, 7 TDs) also return and should continue to split carries. The offensive line is expected to be better than a season ago, as well.
If Voytik can live up to Chryst’s expectations, we should start to see the Panthers offense become a viable threat, something that hasn’t been the case in recent seasons. They’ll need to step up because the defense could be in trouble.
When you lose a player like Aaron Donald, you expect a defense to take a step back. Pittsburgh will have five returning starters and will look to the line to keep this group afloat once again. The linebackers probably return the most experience with two seniors, but they underperformed last year. The secondary is solid, but with two incoming sophomores isn’t a shut-down unit by any means.
Pittsburgh is normally a feisty team no matter who they play, and there’s no reason that won’t continue this season. If the offense can start well with Voytik, they’ll be competing for the Coastal title.
The Panthers have a friendly non-Conference Schedule which should help them easily reach another bowl Game. Iowa will be a tough test, but that Game is at home.
Things don’t really get too tough for them as Boston College and Syracuse are their two Atlantic division opponents, both winnable Games. An important stretch comes in late October with Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Duke and North Carolina on the Schedule. Those first three Games are all at home.
Like the other teams in the Coastal division, the Panthers have a lot of variables that are a toss-up. At this point, it’s hard to see them winning the division, unless the offense can really pick it up. They’ll compete, but not to where they’ll get six Conference wins or nine total wins.
2014 Pittsburgh Football Schedule
Aug. 30 vs. Delaware
Sept. 6 at Boston College
Sept. 13 at FIU
Sept. 20 vs. Iowa
Oct. 4 vs. Akron
Oct. 11 at Virginia
Oct. 18 vs. Virginia Tech
Oct. 25 vs. Georgia Tech
Nov. 1 vs. Duke
Nov. 8 at North Carolina
Nov. 15 vs. Syracuse
Nov. 29 at Miami (FL)