Pitt and Penn State renew their rivalry in 2016 but the game is one of many that highlight Pitt's 2016 football schedule, released in full Tuesday by the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Panthers face three teams that finished the 2015 season ranked in the AP Top 25, including a game at National Champion runner-up Clemson Nov. 12.
Head coach Pat Narduzzi looks forward to what should be a demanding schedule for the Panthers in Narduzzi's second season.
"As a competitor, you want to be challenged by playing the best," Narduzzi said in a statement released by Pitt. "Our 2016 opponents will certainly present us with that opportunity. Whether you are a Pitt player, coach or fan, you can’t help but be fired up when looking at this schedule. It definitely provides our team with a ton of focus and motivation as we prepare for the upcoming fall."
Pitt opens its season at home against Villanova Sept. 3 before the Panthers host the Nittany Lions Sept. 10 as the teams play for the first time since 2000. After the rivalry game, Pitt travels to Stillwater, Okla., to face a Oklahoma State team that finished 10-3 in 2015.
A home date with Marshall, which also finished 2015 with a 10-3 record, on Oct. 1 rounds out the Panthers' nonconference slate.
The Panthers begin league play against the reigning Coastal Division champs, North Carolina, Sept. 24. A back-to-back against the Cowboys and Tar Heels present a daunting test for Pitt early on.
Pitt is idle in Week 8 between a trip to Virginia Oct. 15 and a Thursday night contest against Virginia Tech Oct. 27.
Athletic Director Scott Barnes says there has already been "tremendous activity" in the program's ticket offices as this schedule marks the first with Barnes' involvement as the program's AD.
"Our 2016 schedule has a great mix of traditional rivalries and compelling new opponents," Barnes said in the release. "We’re pleased that we get to play four of our first six games at home before mid-October."
Pitt concludes it season at home against Duke on Nov. 19 and Syracuse Nov. 26.