I know I said I was leaving yesterday, but Twitter follower @jshepler66 pointed out that I hadn't put out my record prediction for the 2012 season. Also be sure to check out Monday's Post-Gazette, where I'll break down some keys for Pitt this season.
Now, let's look at the schedule. Keep in mind that there are basically infinite variables at this point in the season, from injury concerns (Notably Ray Graham's) to the fact that every year, some players come out of nowhere and others fade into the shadows.
I like to lump Pitt's games into three categories: Should win, toss-ups and should lose. The bright side for Pitt is that, looking at the schedule, I really only see one game that falls into the latter category (Virginia Tech). Here's how I'd break it down:
Should win - Youngstown State, Gardner-Webb, Syracuse, Buffalo, Temple, Connecticut.
If Pitt just takes care of business (that's a not-insignificant if), there's six wins and bowl eligibility right there.
Toss-ups - Cincinnati, Louisville, Notre Dame, Rutgers, South Florida
These games really could swing either way, but I'll say Pitt will go somewhere between 2-3 or 3-2 against these five.
Should lose - Virginia Tech
I actually even like the Hokies this year more than their No. 16 AP ranking indicates. Plus, early in the season with question marks around Ray Graham and still adjusting to the new system, I see this as an uphill battle.
How They'll Finish
Just based on that breakdown above, you can tell that I think Pitt will likely go 8-4 or 9-3. I wouldn't be too surprised at 7-5, but I would be very surprised at 10 wins or more. Let's stick with the first one, and I'll predict that Pitt will go 8-4, with a 5-2 Big East record (losses to Louisville, South Florida, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech). Honestly, that could be good enough to even win the conference, depending on how the other results and tiebreakers shake out. More likely, though, I think that will be a third-place finish behind Louisville and South Florida, and a trip to Charlotte and the Belk Bowl (hey, at least it isn't Birmingham).
Of course, now that I predicted that, there's virtually no chance it'll actually happen. Feel free to disagree in the comments. Eight days until football, everyone.