Backyard Brawl at the Right Time
The Pittsburgh Panthers had a magical 2021-2022 football season which saw them go 11-3 and capture their first ACC Championship with a 45-21 win over Wake Forest. Pitt was led by quarterback Kenny Pickett who would end up being drafted in the first round by the hometown Pittsburgh Steelers. It was a season that awoken Panther Nation and brought some sense of excitability to the 2022-2023 season.
The off-season didn’t go as smooth as the Panthers would have liked as they lost Biletnikoff winning wide receiver Jordan Addison to the transfer portal as he left to go out west to play with the USC Trojans. Ironically enough Pitt brought in USC quarterback Kedon Slovis to become the new field general in 2022. Slovis, 6’3” 205 brings some pedigree to hopefully ease the transition out of the Kenny Pickett Era.
Hoping to build off the momentum and excitement of 2021-2022 the Panthers have the perfect start to the schedule in 2022. The West Virginia Mountaineers a long-time rivalry of the Pitt Panthers visit Hei…Acrisure Stadium (sorry it’s going to take some time) on September 1st to kick off the college football season. Thursday night game with the ESPN Gameday crew in town the Panthers have a chance to really jump start a potentially exciting season. West Virginia has won the past three matchups, the last one a 21-20 win in 2011. Some Panthers faithful will tell you they think this is Pitt’s biggest rivalry, even bigger than Penn St. In fact, more Panthers fans know of 13:9 than they do of John 3:16. If you want to get a high five in the Acrisure parking lot just scream 13-9! Of course, this was the huge Pitt upset over West Virginia in 2007 which cost the Mountaineers a chance at a National Title game.
Pitt, ranked #17 in the first AP Poll has the type of schedule to match or even better their record from 2021. The first two home games will go a long way in determining what kind of season the Panthers could have. Tennessee comes to Acrisure the week after the Backyard Brawl and could be a top 25 matchup.
One thing is certain, the Panthers football program is back and is not just a footnote in Pittsburgh sports. Pitt will have a tough defense led by Calijah Kancey, SirVocea Dennis, Habakkuk Baldonado, Jr. and an offense with enough weapons to put points on the board. Israel Abanikanda and Rodney Hammond lead a group of running backs who should transition their offense from a pass happy offense to a more balanced attack.
Go Home Mountaineers…. Eat Sh** Pitt…..yes the Backyard Brawl is definitely scheduled at the right time.
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