Schedule look: Pitt

I continue by team-by-team look at each schedule in the Big East.

Up today: Pitt.

Nonconference schedule: The Panthers get two great challenges with games against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. But they also have two FCS games because of the league scheduling mess, and a game at Buffalo. So there are appealing and unappealing aspects to the slate. Because Pitt has two FCS games, it must win seven games to become bowl eligible. If this team is good enough, it will. Pitt cannot go worse than 3-2 with the nonconference games lined up. I think many folks are penciling in wins for the Hokies and Irish, but Pitt has won three straight over Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame hasn't been unbeatable since what, 1988?

Conference schedule: The Panthers get to open league play right off the bat on the road at Cincinnati. The good news there is at least they will have played a game, albeit against an FCS team. Cincinnati, meanwhile, opens its season against the Panthers. The schedule is laid out in a strange way because the conference games are sprinkled in -- Pitt plays at least one Big East game in September, October, November and December. It may be hard to foster some continuity there. Finishing the season with games against Rutgers and at USF will be a huge test.

Good news: Pitt does get Louisville and Rutgers at home, the two teams that many believe will be the favorites to win the Big East. So that is good news. There are already five games slated for national television, including the finale at USF, which could have league implications. I think the second bye also is placed in a good spot -- right before the two-game finale against the Scarlet Knights and Bulls.

Bad news: The home schedule has one compelling game. Two are against FCS teams, as previously mentioned. The Backyard Brawl, which would have been held in Pittsburgh this year, is replaced with Temple. Pitt has a short week to prepare for the league opener against Cincinnati, and then closes with two really tough games.

Best case: Pitt goes 4-1 in nonconference play and surprises in the Big East, going 9-3.

Worst case: The Panthers lose to Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, and struggle to find their footing under new coach Paul Chryst to go 6-6 again.