Monday, June 20, 2016

Pittsburgh Panthers 2016 outlook

Pittsburgh Panthers

2015 record: 8-5, 5-3 ACC Coastal

2016 schedule:

Sept. 3 vs Villanova

Sept. 10 vs Penn State
Sept. 17 at Oklahoma State
Sept. 24 at North Carolina
Oct. 1 vs Marshall
Oct. 8 vs Georgia Tech
Oct. 15 at Virginia
Oct. 27 (Thu.) vs Virginia Tech
Nov. 5 at Miami (FL)
Nov. 12 at Clemson
Nov. 19 vs Duke
Nov. 26 vs Syracuse

Fresh off an 8-5 campaign in 2015, coach Pat Narduzzi is looking to bring back the 1980's era of when players such as Dan Marino and Tony Dorsett put the Pittsburgh Panthers on the map as National Championship contenders year in and year out.

The return of running back James Conner (lymphoma) will provide a big boost to a Pittsburgh offense which ranked 44th in the FBS on the ground with 186.9 yards per game last season.

Players To Watch For- Junior running back James Conner:

As mentioned earlier, Conner returns for the Panthers after sitting out last season.

In 2014, Conner finished with 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

Senior offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty:

For Conner to return to his old form, Bisnowaty's presence as the leader of the Pittsburgh offensive line will play a critical role in the process.

Named second-team All American last season, the senior has started 30 games and is also a pre-season candidate for the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, presented to the country's best offensive lineman.

Key Game- Sept. 10 vs Penn State:

The in-state rivalry stands out as the game to watch for this season as Pittsburgh and Penn State meet for the first time since Sept. 16, 2000 when the Panthers had their way with a 12-0 shutout of the Nittany Lions at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA.

The rise of independent schools bolting to power conferences in the 1990's led to the end of the rivalry on a yearly basis as it became difficult for Penn State and Pittsburgh to schedule with only three to four non-conference games per season, but for the next four seasons, the two teams will meet again on the gridiron.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.