Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer
The Atlantic Coast Conference revealed Pitt football’s 2021 schedule on Thursday, reverting back to a traditional 12-game slate after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a one-game reduction in 2020.
Bring on 2️⃣0️⃣2️⃣1️⃣
Pitt Football Schedule
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) January 28, 2021
The Panthers will open the season at home against UMass on Sept. 4, the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Pitt will play seven opponents at Heinz Field — UMass, Western Michigan, New Hampshire, Clemson, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia — and five on the road — Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Duke and Syracuse.
Three of Pitt’s 2021 opponents finished the 2020 season ranked in the AP Top 25 — No. 3 Clemson, No. 18 North Carolina and No. 22 Miami. All of those games will take place in Pittsburgh, with the UNC matchup slated for a Thursday.
The Panthers haven’t had tremendous experiences against the Tar Heels recently in mid-week opportunities. Pitt lost 34-31 to UNC on a Thursday night in 2017, the Tar Heels’ only ACC victory that season. Two years earlier, No. 23 Pitt fell 26-19 to unranked North Carolina in yet another Thursday night matchup.
Pitt’s Sept. 11 nonconference showdown at Tennessee will be the teams’ first meeting since 1983, when Pitt escaped Knoxville with a 13-3 victory.
Pitt finished the 2020 campaign with a 6-5 record, opting to forgo a bowl game. Shortly after the season’s conclusion, senior quarterback Kenny Pickett announced his decision to return for a fifth year, made possible by the NCAA’s blanket waiver to all fall sports athletes.