On one hand, the Pittsburgh Panthers are stepping into uncertainty in 2013. They're leaving the Big East for the greener pastures of the ACC, and will have to familiarize themselves with a new set of conference foes. However, this is the first time in several years that the Panthers will have the same head coach for consecutive seasons, and it doesn't look like Paul Chryst is going anywhere.
So what does 2013 hold for the Panthers? Let's take a look at the schedule and try to project.
2013 Pitt schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
Pitt's first step into life in the ACC is a doozy, as it has the pleasure of opening the season against defending conference champion Florida State. That game will more than likely be a loss, but after a bye week, the Panthers have a shot to reel off three straight wins before heading into another bye.
What's odd about the schedule is that the Panthers don't play their out of conference schedule early in the season. They have back to back games against Old Dominion and Navy at the end of October and a quasi-out-of-conference game against Notre Dame in November, so their early season slate is loaded with conference foes. Duke and Virginia aren't the most daunting of opponents, but it's not quite the cake walk that many teams enjoy during September.
Pitt's season will be either made or broken in November, when it plays five difficult games. Thankfully, the three most difficult of those games (Notre Dame, North Carolina, and Miami) are at home, but that doesn't guarantee success. With the Panthers changing conferences and only returning five starters on offense, getting to 6-6 and into a bowl game would probably be considered a successful season.