2023 Season Preview – Pittsburgh Panthers

2022 Record – 9-4; 5-3 ACC

Bowl: VS. UCLA in Sun Bowl (W 37-35)

2023 Schedule

  • 9/2 – VS Wofford
  • 9/9 – VS Cincinnati
  • 9/16 – at West Virginia
  • 9/23 – VS North Carolina
  • 9/30 – at Virginia Tech
  • 10/14 – VS Louisville
  • 10/21 – at Wake Forest
  • 10/28 – at Notre Dame
  • 11/4 – VS Florida State
  • 11/11 – VS Syracuse (at Yankee Stadium)
  • 11/16 – VS Boston College
  • 11/25 – at Duke

2022 Recap

After winning the ACC Championship in 2021, the question for Pitt is if they couple compete in the ACC again in 2022. The season started off with a classic game against West Virginia in the renewal of the Backyard Brawl. After tying the game up, the Panthers scored on an interception return with under three minutes remaining to pull off a thrilling win 38-31.

Pitt tried to pull off the same feat the next week against Tennessee. After scoring to tie the game and send it to overtime, they couldn’t score in the extra session leading to their first loss of the year. With other non-conference wins against Western Michigan and Rhode Island, Pittsburgh entered ACC play at 3-1.

Conference play got off to a rough start after losing at home to Georgia Tech. In fact, the Panthers would start off 1-3 after losses at Louisville and North Carolina. Luckily, Pitt would turn things around and finish out the regular season winning their last four conference games to finish 5-3 in the ACC. This would not be good enough to return to the championship game, however.

Pitt would finish the season with a trip to the Sun Bowl in El Paso. They played yet another tight game and pulled away victorious against UCLA, 37-35. The Panthers finished the season at 9-4.

2023 Preview

There are a lot of changes happening at Pittsburgh this year starting with the quarterback position. Gone is Kedon Slovis and in is Phil Jurkovec from Boston College. Slovis struggled as a starter so it will be interesting to see if there is any progression with a new playmaker in the mix.

Behind Jurkovec is Rodney Hammond Jr., who was a strong second back in 2022 including winning the Sun Bowl MVP. He should be helped out with three returning starters on the offensive line to help open up those running lanes. Two of the top three receivers are back in Konata Mumpfield and Bub Means as well. This means if the new quarterback can mesh with the returning players the offense could be in good shape for 2023.

The defense is where the biggest question make could be. ACC Defensive Player of the Year Calijah Kancey is gone along with five other defensive starters. This was a defense that finished second in the country in sacks in 2022. The biggest strength could be at the linebacker position where Bangally Kamara and Shayne Simon both return after having 45+ tackles each the previous season.

2023 Prediction

The Panthers have a challenging non-conference schedule. It starts off with a should be easy win against Wofford, but the next two games are against Big 12 newcomer Cincinnati at home, then on the road in the Backyard Brawl at West Virginia. On top of that they also have to travel to Notre Dame at the end of October for one of the Fighting Irish’s pseudo-conference games.

In ACC play, not having Clemson on the schedule is always a plus. The ACC seems to always be a toss-up. The Panthers start off conference play with a home against North Carolina which is always a tough game. If they get the past that game, the next three games are all winnable against Virginia Tech, Louisville, and Wake Forest.

The hardest conference game will likely be against Florida State at home. This is followed by what should be a fun game against Syracuse at Yankee Stadium. Overall, this conference schedule gives Pittsburgh a decent chance to compete for the ACC Championship game.

Prediction – 8-4

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