2018 Pitt Panthers Season Win Total Picks and Predictions for NCAA Football
2017 Record: 5-7
2018 Las Vegas Season Win Total: 5.5
2018 Season Win Total Picks NCAA Football: 'Under'
Pittsburgh had a nine-year bowl streak snapped last season when it struggled through a 5-7 campaign. Pat Narduzzi is entering his fourth year at the controls and has brought some stability to a program that has had seven coaches (including interims) in eight seasons this decade. But he will need to dig deep this season if he wants to avoid another bowl-less winter.
This year we are going to find out what Narduzzi is all about. And how well he can recruit. The program is now stocked with his players, and his systems are firmly in place.
Just four starters are back on offense. But that doesn't include quarterback Kenny Pickett. Pickett started just one game last year. But it was a big one as Pitt upset No. 2 Miami 24-14 to close the season. Pickett has real potential. But he will be working with a very young receiving corps that is devoid of any top-end talent. Pitt does have its top two rushers back.
Narduzzi is known as a defensive coach. Last year he had nine new starters, and his defense got torched in the opening month of the season. But they showed some improvement. And now the Panthers have nine starters - and 13 of their top 15 tacklers - back in the mix.
The Panthers are part of the jumbled mess that is the Coastal Division. There really isn't a lot separating the top of this conference from the bottom. So there is the possibility that this team can rise up and make some noise in the division race.
That said, Pitt's schedule isn't kind. And that's what's going to hold them back from a breakout this year. After a gimme against Albany, the Panthers host rival Penn State as a large home underdog. They host a tough Georgia Tech team the next week in a letdown spot.
Pitt has to play three of its next four on the road, including away games against Central Florida (undefeated last year) and Notre Dame (Top 15 team). A road trip to Chapel Hill and a home game against Syracuse are far from easy W's.
There is a real chance that the Panthers are just 2-5 or 3-4 heading into their Oct. 20 bye. And things don't lighten up much after that. The Panthers host Duke and Virginia Tech and close with three of four on the road, including a Friday night fight at Virginia and a season ending game at Miami.
The Panthers have a lot of questions on offense. And we are assuming the defense is going to develop even though we didn't see a lot of promise from it last season. Throw in a pretty relentless schedule - even for a Coastal Division team - and I think that Pittsburgh is going to be hard-pressed to get six wins and get back to a bowl.
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