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February 25, 2013

Pitt unveils 'dynamic' schedule

Pitt will open its membership in the ACC with a bang, as the Panthers will host Florida State at Heinz Field on Sept. 2 to begin a 2013 football season that features arguably the best slate of Pitt homes games in years.

The opener with the Seminoles was officially announced on Monday with the release of the full 2013 schedule. The Florida State game will kick off at 8 p.m. and be broadcast nationally on ESPN as the Labor Day night game that brings the opening weekend of the college football season to a close.

"It's a great schedule," Pitt head coach Paul Chryst said during a press conference at Heinz Field on Monday. "I think it provides a great opportunity because of the challenges. We're excited and proud to be going into the ACC, and what better way to do it than to play against the defending champions?"

"Those are the games you remember," redshirt senior receiver Devin Street said Monday. "Just the atmosphere and coming out to that, that's what football's about. That's what you look forward to, that's what you see on TV, that's what you imagine, that's what you dream; for us to be in this schedule with great talent like this is tremendous."

After the Florida State game, Pitt will be off in Week Two before hosting New Mexico on Sept. 14 and then going to Duke for its first ACC road game. The Panthers will finish the month of September with a third conference game when Virginia comes to Heinz Field.

Pitt will play three games in October, starting with a game at Virginia Tech on Oct. 12, the Panthers' first game in Blacksburg since 2002. Then Pitt hosts Old Dominion on Oct. 19 in the game that replaced the Panthers' previously-scheduled season opener against Villanova, which was moved to make room for the Labor Day game against Florida State. And Pitt finishes the month at Navy on Oct. 26.

The final month of the season will be a full one for Pitt, with five games, including four conference contests. Pitt plays at Georgia Tech on Nov. 2, hosts Notre Dame Nov. 9 and North Carolina Nov. 16, faces annual crossover opponent Syracuse on the road No. 23 and then finishes the season against Miami on Friday, Nov. 29. That game will be televised on ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2.

"I can't imagine that there's a better home schedule in the country," Pitt Athletic Director Steve Pederson, who also called the schedule "dynamic," said Monday.

"Why would you not buy a season ticket? What game would you not want to go to? Just being realistic, if you like college football and you like to have fun."

Only the season opener and the season finale will be played on weekdays, ending Pitt's trend of Thursday, Friday, and even Wednesday games. Pederson thinks the Saturday-heavy schedule will be to the benefit of Pitt fans.

"We have a Labor Day game and we play the day after Thanksgiving, but all of [the others] are Saturdays," Pederson said. "We have normal college football: playing on Saturday. I think that's big, so people can plan better and not try to guess when on Earth these games are going to be."

Florida State will visit Pitt as a crossover opponent from the Atlantic Division of the conference, while Syracuse will be on Pitt's schedule every year as an annual crossover opponent. The other six conference games (at Duke, vs. Virginia, at Virginia Tech, at Georgia Tech, vs. North Carolina, and vs. Miami) will face Pitt from the Coastal Division.

2013 Pitt football schedule
9/2 - Florida State (Monday, 8 p.m. ESPN)
9/14 - New Mexico
9/21 - at Duke
9/28 - Virginia
10/12 - at Virginia Tech
10/19 - Old Dominion
10/26 - at Navy (CBS Sports Network)
11/2 - at Georgia Tech
11/9 - Notre Dame
11/16 - North Carolina
11/23 - at Syracuse
11/29 - Miami (Friday, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)

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