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Pitt football to face Notre Dame, Florida State, Miami at home

| Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, 11:02 a.m.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly watches from the sideline during overtime of an NCAA college football game against Stanford in South Bend, Ind. (AP)

Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson admitted he wasn't sure what the term meant, but when he was told his 2013 home football schedule was trending throughout the city, he knew this:

“Evidently, that's a good thing,” he said.

Pitt football suddenly became a hot ticket Friday when the school and the ACC released the Panthers' opponents for next season. For the first time in 12 years, Pitt will play home games against two teams ranked in the previous season's top 10 — No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 10 Florida State.

In the first 90 minutes after the late-morning announcement, Pitt sold 1,000 season-ticket packages, Pitt director of marketing and ticket operations Justin Acierno said.

“It's been busy. It's been exciting,” Acierno said.

Included on the list of ACC opponents is a game at Heinz Field against defending conference champion Florida State (12-2). Pitt also will play one of its four non-conference games at home Nov. 9 against Notre Dame (12-1), the loser in the national championship this season.

“Certainly, the ACC has done a nice job of branding Pitt into the (conference) by virtue of a schedule like this,” Pederson said. “Certainly, it is challenging, but at the same time it will be good for everybody to have such high-profile games.”

The most recent time Pitt played two top-10 teams at home was 2001, when the Panthers met No. 2 Miami and No. 6 Virginia Tech.

The schedule is challenging for a rebuilding team, but Pederson said coach Paul Chryst welcomes it.

“Paul is a competitive guy,” Pederson said. “He has never worried about who we play.”

Pitt's eight-game ACC schedule includes dates with fellow Coastal Division members Miami, North Carolina and Virginia at home and Duke, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech on the road.

The other two are crossover games at Syracuse and against Florida State, both from the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Syracuse game will be a home/away annual event, and Pitt will play one other Atlantic team on a rotating basis.

Dates for conference games will be announced next month, but Pederson said the ACC plays most of its games on Saturdays.

Pitt will open its season Aug. 31 at home against FCS Villanova. The Panthers also play New Mexico on Sept. 14 at home and Navy on Oct. 26 in Annapolis, Md.

Pederson announced a two-game home/away series with Iowa of the Big Ten starting in 2014, when Pitt will play the Hawkeyes at Heinz Field and Notre Dame on the road.

That shapes up as another daunting schedule.

“That's what happens when you play in a great league,” Pederson said.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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