Pitt's James Conner runs into the end zone for a touchdown in the first quarter of the 2013 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit last month.
By Sam Werner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The ACC released its 2014 football schedule Wednesday, the final — and biggest — piece remaining in putting together the Panthers’ 2014 slate.
Of the eight conference games, seven are carry-over opponents from the 2013 season with the locations flipped. The only new ACC team on the Panthers’ schedule is Boston College, which will serve as Pitt’s 2014 crossover opponent from the Atlantic Division (Florida State was Pitt’s crossover opponent in 2013).
“It’s one of the great things about being in the ACC is that every game on the schedule is appealing,” Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters.
Pitt will open the 2014 season with a home game Aug. 30 against Delaware. There’s still some logistical details to work out because the Pirates have a home game at 4:05 p.m. that day. Pederson said the original plan was for Pitt to play at 1 p.m. with the Pirates going at 7 p.m. The Pirates were asked to move their game for television reasons, and now Pitt has to figure out a kickoff time that causes the least inconvenience for fans heading to the North Shore.
“The reality is there’s really no time we can play that’s not going to impact a 4:05 game,” Pederson said.
“Under no circumstances would be kick before noon. That’s not fair to our fans. We would never do that.”
The Panthers kick off ACC play in 2014 with a Friday night game Sept. 5 at Boston College. Pitt previously played the Eagles in 2004 when both schools were members of the Big East Conference.
Pitt’s only other non-Saturday game on the schedule is a Thursday night (Oct. 16) home game against Virginia Tech. The Panthers have won their past three home games against the Hokies, but lost, 19-9, in Blacksburg, Va., in 2013.
“I think Thursday night on Oct. 16 against Virginia Tech is going to be a really special night,” Pederson said.
Duke, the 2013 Coastal Division champion, visits Heinz Field Nov. 1. Pitt beat the Blue Devils in 2013 Durham, N.C., in a wild 58-55 shootout.
Pitt wraps up the season two days after Thanksgiving on the road against Miami. The two teams played the same weekend in 2013 (though that game was Friday). Pederson said he was “hopeful” that the Thanksgiving game against the Hurricanes would become an annual fixture on Pitt’s schedule.
One notable name missing from the 2014 schedule is Notre Dame. The Irish are entering their first year of playing five ACC opponents annually, but Pitt is not one of them. Notre Dame will return to Heinz Field in 2015, and Pederson said future dates against the Irish should be set up soon.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst was on the road recruiting Wednesday, but said in a statement that the 2014 schedule represented “12 big challenges.”
“When you finally get your new schedule, it makes the upcoming season very real and concrete,” Chryst said. “With our players in the midst of their offseason training, the 2014 schedule should provide strong inspiration.”
Season and individual game tickets for the 2014 season went on sale Wednesday. For the first time, Pitt also is offering three-game “mini-plans” in which fans can select three games from the schedule and buy tickets for those three. Prices vary based on which games are selected.
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