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Pitt announces 2011 football schedule

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Iowa, Notre Dame, Utah highlight non-conference slate

New coach Todd Graham and his Pitt football team will face a 12-game schedule this fall featuring eight opponents coming off bowl game appearances and non-conference foes from the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Notre Dame.

The Panthers regular-season slate was announced today by the Big East Conference.

Pitt will host record eight home games at Heinz Field. Five games are already scheduled for national television.

Notre Dame returns to Pittsburgh as the Panthers will host the Fighting Irish on Sept. 24. Pitt also gets a rare eastern visit by a Pac-10 team. Utah, in its debut season as a Pac-10 member, visits Heinz Field on Oct. 15. The Utes are the first Pac-10 team to play at Pitt since 1995.  

Another highlight includes a Thursday night ESPN encounter with Big East foe USF on Sept. 29 at Heinz Field. The Bulls are coming off a Meineke Car Care Bowl victory over Clemson and figure to be among the Big East favorites this year.

Pitt also plays its first game at Iowa since 1951. The Panthers, who defeated the Hawkeyes, 21-20, at Heinz Field in 2008, travel to Iowa City this season for a Sept. 17 date.

The 104th renewal of the “Backyard Brawl” against West Virginia takes place when the Panthers visit Morgantown for a nationally televised clash against their longtime rival on Nov. 25.  

The Panthers open the season with consecutive home games against Buffalo (Sept. 3) and Maine (Sept. 10). Other home dates include a midweek ESPN clash against defending Big East champion Connecticut (Oct. 26) and a Nov. 5 game against “River City rival” Cincinnati.

Pitt’s Big East schedule is rounded out by road games at Rutgers (Oct. 8) and St. Petersburg Bowl champion Louisville (Nov. 12).

Pitt closes out their season at Heinz Field against Syracuse on Dec. 3. The rising Orange are coming off a Pinstripe Bowl victory over Kansas State.   

“This is a very challenging schedule but also a schedule that will provide us with great opportunity to achieve special things,” Graham said. “Our players know what tests they will face this fall and this should provide great motivation during their offseason conditioning. From a fan perspective, it is exciting to have eight games at Heinz Field and we’re looking forward to a strong home field advantage.”

Season-ticket packages are currently on sale for as low as $116 and can be purchased online (PittsburghPanthers.com), by phone (800/643-PITT) or in person at the Petersen Events Center ticket office. Current season ticket holders who renew online by April 12 will receive a $10 discount.

The 2011 season marks the highly anticipated debut of the Todd Graham coaching era at Pitt. Graham comes to Pittsburgh after an exceptional tenure at Tulsa, where in four years he had three 10-win campaigns and three bowl victories. He compiled a 36-17 overall record with the Golden Hurricane, including a 10-3 mark last year that was highlighted by a 28-27 victory at Notre Dame and 62-35 win over 24th-ranked Hawai’i in the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl.

Pitt finished with an 8-5 overall record in 2010 and earned a share of the Big East championship with a 5-2 league mark. The Panthers closed the campaign with a 27-10 victory over Kentucky in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Pitt begins spring drills on March 15 and the annual Blue-Gold Game will be held at Heinz Field on April 16.           

The complete 2011 Pitt football schedule
Sept. 3 - Buffalo TBA
Sept. 10 - Maine TBA
Sept. 17 - at Iowa TBA
Sept. 24 - Notre Dame (ABC, ESPN or ESPN2) TBA
Sept. 29 - USF* (ESPN) 8 p.m.
Oct. 8 -  at Rutgers* TBA
Oct. 15 - Utah TBA
Oct. 26 - Connecticut* (ESPN) 8 p.m.
Nov. 5 - Cincinnati* TBA
Nov. 12 - at Louisville* TBA
Nov. 25 - at West Virginia* (ABC, ESPN or ESPN2) TBA
Dec. 3 - Syracuse* (ABC, ESPN or ESPN2) TBA

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