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July 21, 2013

Countdown to Labor Day: 43

The countdown to the start of the 2013 season is under way, as Pitt is 43 days away from its Labor Day opener against Florida State at Heinz Field. Panther-Lair.com is counting down the days until the biggest season opener in recent memory.

Today's number is 43, so we're looking at Pitt's winning percentage against its 2013 opponents.

Of the 12 teams Pitt is scheduled to meet in 2013, the Panthers have faced 10 of them in a total of 262 games. In those 262 games, Pitt is 115-139-8 for a winning percentage of 43.9.

Here's a breakdown of Pitt's record vs. each of its 2013 opponents.

9/2/2013 - Florida State (Heinz Field)
Record: 5-3

Pitt first met Florida State in 1971, and the circumstances of the start of the series are unique. After the NCAA announced that college teams could play 11 games following the 1970 season, schools were scrambling for 1971 opponents. Pitt and FSU came up with a last-minute home-and-home that turned out to be back-to-back, as the Seminoles hosted the Panthers in the 1971 finale and then came north to Pittsburgh to open the 1972 season.

FSU won the first two games in the series, but Pitt took the 1974 and 1978 contests. Florida State won in 1980 - a midseason defeat that ultimately kept Pitt from playing for the national championship - but the Panthers won three-straight from 1981-83, a winning streak that Pitt will ride into Labor Day.

9/14/2013 - New Mexico (Heinz Field)
Record: N/A

Pitt has never faced New Mexico.

9/21/2013 - Duke (Durham, NC)
Record: 9-8

Pitt's all-time series with Duke dates back to 1929, when the Panthers walloped the Blue Devils 52-7 on the road. The two teams didn't meet again until 1937, which started a six-year stretch of annual games. Duke won the final three games in the yearly matchup and emerged victorious once again when the Panthers and Blue Devils met again in 1950 and 1951 for a five-game winning streak.

Pitt notched three wins against Duke in 1955, 1956 and 1959 before the teams went back-and-forth on a trio of games in the 1960's. Pitt and Duke met twice in the 1970's, with the Panthers winning both games, and they have not met since 1976.

9/28/2013 - Virginia (Heinz Field)
Record: 3-2

Pitt and Virginia first met on the football field 60 years ago, but the two teams have only played five games in the series. After two games in the 1950's, the Panthers and Cavaliers were brought together by the 2003 Continental Tire Bowl, which went to Virginia by a score of 23-16. Since then, the two teams have each won a home game in the series, the last of which came in 2007.

10/12/2013 - Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Va.)
Record: 5-7

Pitt's series with Virginia Tech started when the Panthers joined the Big East for football in 1993, and the two teams met every year from then until 2003 when the Hokies left the Big East for the ACC. Virginia Tech ruled the series in the early years, winning the first four contests by an average of 26.8 points per game.

Then Pitt hired Walt Harris, and the Panthers finally got a win with a 30-23 victory at Pitt Stadium. The Hokies took the next three, including the 37-34 game in Blacksburg in 2000, but Harris won the final three Big East games between Pitt and Virginia Tech.

When the Panthers and Hokies met at Heinz Field last season, it was the first game in the series since 2012 and Virginia Tech came to Pittsburgh ranked No. 13 in the country. But the 0-2 Panthers were not intimidated, and they controlled the game from the start en route to a 35-17 victory,

10/19/2013 - Old Dominion (Heinz Field)
Record: N/A

Pitt has never faced Old Dominion.

10/26/2013 - Navy (Annapolis, Md.)
Record: 22-13-3

Pitt has been facing Navy since 1912 in a series that has had more than a few momentum swings over the years. The Panthers had a six-game winning streak in the series from 1914-54, but Navy went 7-1-1 from 1955-68.

Even in 1978, as Pitt was two years removed from its ninth national championship the previous season, the Midshipmen took a 21-11 win in Annapolis. After losing again in 1985, Pitt went on a four-game winning streak until the series took a hiatus in 1989.

The series resumed 18 years later when Navy came to Heinz Field on a Wednesday night and took a struggling Pitt team to double-overtime before leaving Pittsburgh with a 48-45 victory. The Panthers rebounded the next season and won convincingly in Annapolis, and in the last meeting between the two teams, Pitt won at Heinz Field in 2009.

11/2/2013 - Georgia Tech (Atlanta, Ga.)
Record: 5-2

Pitt and Georgia Tech have scattered seven matchups over the last 95 years, with the first game in the series coming in 1918 and the most recent being during the national championship season of 1976.

The Panthers and Yellow Jackets met annually in Pittsburgh from 1918-20, but it took a bowl selection committee to bring the teams back together. In January 1956, Pitt and Georgia Tech met in the Sugar Bowl; the following December, the rematch was set for the Gator Bowl. Georgia Tech won both of those games.

Pitt went to Atlanta in 1974 and 1976 and won both times.

11/9/2013 - Notre Dame (Heinz Field)
Record: 20-47-1

Pitt's history with Notre Dame is too long to be recounted in-depth here. The two teams have met 68 times since 1909. Notre Dame had an eight-game winning streak in the series from 1943-51, an 11-game winning streak from 1964-74, and another eight-game winning streak from 1988-97.

In the midst of those three wins, Pitt never managed to string together more than three consecutive wins against Notre Dame, which the Panthers did several times over the course of the series.

The Pitt-Notre Dame series has included some classic games, even in the last 10 years. The 41-38 win in 2004, the four-overtime 36-33 win in 2008 and last season's triple-overtime loss rank among the most exciting and - save for that last one - biggest wins for Pitt in recent history.

11/16/2013 - North Carolina (Heinz Field)
Record: 3-4

Pitt has met North Carolina seven times since 1974, but none of those games was played at Heinz Field and only one was played at Pitt Stadium.

The series opened with Pitt on the road in 1974, and the Panthers hosted the Tar Heels at Pitt Stadium in 1978. 1979 saw the two teams back in North Carolina, but the 1982 game was played at Three Rivers Stadium. Pitt went south for the 1998 game and then hosted UNC at Three Rivers once again in 2000.

The most recent meeting was in December 2009, when Pitt capped its excellent 2009 season with a 19-17 win to give the Panthers 10 wins for the first time since 1981.

11/23/2013 - Syracuse (Syracuse, NY)
Record: 34-31-3

Pitt and Syracuse have met on regular basis for the better part of the last 100 years. The first game in the series was in 1916, and the Panthers and Orange met every year from then until 1924. After games in 1924 and 1930, the series took a 25-year hiatus, but Pitt and Syracuse started meeting again in 1955 and they faced each other every season since.

The series has seen two 11-game winning streaks: Pitt won 11 in a row from 1973-83, while Syracuse had an 11-game winning streak from 1991-2001. Since 2001, Pitt has won nine of 11 games, although Syracuse took the 2012 contest in the Carrier Dome.

11/29/2013 - Miami (Heinz Field)
Record: 9-22-1

Pitt's history against Miami is not pretty. The two teams first met in 1950, and the Panthers got their first win in 1951. But further victories were sparse. Pitt never won more than two consecutive games against Miami, and the Panthers only paired back-to-back victories once in the series.

The Hurricanes won eight games in a row against the Panthers between 1984 and 1996 before Walt Harris got a signature win in his first year as Pitt head coach. But that shine didn't last, as Miami went right back to beating Pitt, winning the last seven games in the series since that 1997 Panther victory.

Previous entries in the Countdown

Countdown: 44 - An unfortunate score
Countdown: 45 - The Rhino
Countdown: 46 - The great Bimbo
Countdown: 47 - A huge effort in a tough loss
Countdown: 48 - The highest-scoring game
Countdown: 49 - The sack master
Countdown: 50 - The winningest coach in Pitt history
Countdown: 51 - A kicking record
Countdown: 52 - The link between Goldberg and Dorsett
Countdown: 53 - The legacy of Henry Ford
Countdown: 54 - A "Corny" mid-century quarterback
Countdown: 55 - Pitt makes history
Countdown: 56 - Panthers in the Super Bowl
Countdown: 57 - A unique scoring title
Countdown: 58 - Another Dorsett record
Countdown: 59 - The rare 59-point game
Countdown: 60 - A record that won't be broken
Countdown: 61 - Pitt's longest-running rivalry
Countdown: 62 - The last touchdown against Penn State
Countdown: 63 - The No Bowl Panthers
Countdown: 64 - The most passes in a game
Countdown: 65 - The other 13-9
Countdown: 66 - A local star
Countdown: 67 - One-win seasons
Countdown: 68 - The most prolific receiving game
Countdown: 69 - One of the biggest plays in Pitt history
Countodwn: 70 - The origin of Pitt's nine championships
Countdown: 71 - A good player in a bad era
Countdown: 72 - An All-American who became a dentist
Countdown: 73 - May Day
Countdown: 74 - A "groundwork" season
Countdown: 75 - A successful DL-to-OL move
Countdown: 76 - The 1976 national championship
Countdown: 77 - The last three-sport athletes
Countdown: 78 - An underrated pro
Countdown: 79 - One of the best
Countdown: 80 - The greatest non-championship team in Pitt history
Countdown: 81 - A crushing end to a great season
Countdown: 82 - The dawn of the Foge Era
Countdown: 83 - The most accurate kicker in Pitt history
Countdown: 84 - Pitt in the Pro Bowl
Countdown: 85 - A play that will never be matched
Countdown: 86 - A long but unfulfilled play
Countdown: 87 - The final year of Ironhead
Countdown: 88 - Pitt's All-American tradition
Countdown: 89 - Iron Mike
Countdown: 90 - The four 9-0's
Countdown: 91 - The two longest plays in Pitt history
Countdown: 92 - The senior year of the most productive QB in Pitt history
Countdown: 93 - The only 9-3 season in Pitt history
Countdown: 94 - The statistical oddity of 1994
Countdown: 95 - A relentless player and his dominant season
Countdown: 96 - The biggest win in Pitt history
Countdown: 97 - A dominant current Panther
Countdown: 98 - A transition year
Countdown: 99 - Hugh Green
Countdown: 100 - A look at Pitt in 1913

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