This is the fifth and final question we’re debating to preview and prepare for the 2016 Pitt football season. Lucky for us, some of our #PittTwitter friends were kind enough to contribute their thoughts for each question.
Today we try and define what success means for Pitt in the 2016 season, whether it be a certain win total, wins against specific teams, division championship, conference championship, specific bowl game, or something else. Be sure to listen to our mini episode at the end of the post after you read through what our panel has to say, and check out our previous editions if you haven’t already!
- Question 1: What do you expect to see from James Conner
- Question 2: How do you see the Pitt WR battle playing out? Who will earn starting spots?
- Question 3: What is Pitt’s biggest strength, and Pitt’s biggest weakness?
- Question 4: What would make this a successful season, in your opinion?
- Jim Hammett, CardiacHill.com
- Chris Bruno, CardiacHill.com (@BrunoPittsburgh)
- Justin Witmer (@NFLGimpy)
- Anson Whaley, CardiacHill.com (@AnsonWhaley)
- Corey Cohen (@CoreyECohen)
Give us your best case/worst case scenarios for Pitt this season, and make your official season predictions.
Best Case? Pitt starts off the season with a win over Penn State and goes on to win the Coastal. Of course even in a best case scenario, I can’t see the Panthers taking wins over Oklahoma State or Clemson on the road, but everyone else on the schedule is beatable. A trip to the ACC Championship Game, even if you go on to get crushed by Clemson or FSU, is still a dream scenario for Pitt fans. Oh, and that dream includes James Conner winning the Heisman. No man is more deserving.
A worst case scenario is losing the first game to Villanova (I still shudder with flashbacks to Youngstown State) and then getting pummeled by Penn State a week later. You’ve now got a humiliating 0-2 record with trips to Stillwater and Chapel Hill on the docket. In that scenario, we’d have to pray for Kevin Stallings to miraculously turn the basketball program into Duke so we can pretend that we don’t care about football (even though we all do.)
So a realistic middle ground that I think will happen this year?
- Win vs. Villanova
- Win vs. Penn State
- Lose at Oklahoma State
- Lose at North Carolina
- Win vs. Marshall
- Win vs. Georgia Tech
- Win at Virginia
- Lose vs. Virginia Tech
- Lose at Miami
- Lose at Clemson
- Win vs. Duke
- Win vs. Syracuse
A 7-5 regular season with a trip to a fun bowl game like the Music City Bowl in Nashville or the Pinstripe Bowl in New York.
I think best case scenario for Pitt is something like a 9-3 season and a berth in the ACC Title game opposite Clemson or Florida State. In that, Pitt would probably beat Penn State as well. I would think with the way Pitt handled their bowl selection last year in selling out three different ticket allotments, a better bowl will pick them up and it would be a good cap to the season.
Worst case scenario is Pitt goes 1-3 in September and goes into a tough Marshall game trying to save their season. 7-5 seems pretty realistic this season, and a record most Pitt fans would accept. So I would say worst case would be dropping below 7-5, so 6-6 or worse.
Here goes my season picks…
Wins – Villanova, Penn St, Marshall, Ga Tech, Virginia, Va Tech, Duke, Syracuse
Losses – OK State, UNC, Miami, Clemson
Result: 8-4. No Coastal Title, and let’s just say a trip to the Pinstripe Bowl.
Best Case: 8-4
Worse Case: 4-8 – again, look at the schedule….this could happen
My pick – 7-5 – I think Peterman is steady and the offensive line and running backs are going to be just too strong for some teams on their schedule and add in that they are slowly getting playmakers on defense with Dwayne Hendrix, Damar Hamlin, and Therran Coleman adding to the mix, and I think they make enough plays there to give their offense all they need….and again, I stress, 7-5, with this schedule is something to be very proud of and a bright future for Pitt.
Best case scenario: Coastal Championship. Narduzzi leads his squad through an undefeated Coastal record with the only blemish a close but respectable loss to Clemson in Death Valley. This team isn’t quite ready to compete with Clemson or FSU as those two are currently comprised but a great bowl game and a statement to college football that Pitt is no longer mediocre propels it into 2017.
Worst case scenario: 2007. A very talented team loses its QB early in the season and with no depth there the offense struggles to score. The defense and running game have the potential to be very good, but if Nate Peterman goes down there’s not much to work with behind him. He’s Pitt’s most irreplaceable player by a large margin due to Chad Voytik (understandably) transferring to Arkansas State.
The best case scenario I can envision for this team would be something like 9-3. And at the other end of the spectrum, I don’t see anything worse than a 6-6 year. If I’m making a prediction, I’d say 8-4 with losses against Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Miami, and Clemson. Those are all road games and while Pitt was 5-1 away from Heinz Field last year, that road slate was pretty light as a whole and even then, three of their five victories were by a combined ten points and were very close games.