Fans gather in uptown for ACC title game between Pittsburgh, Wake Forest

CHARLOTTE — The Pitt Panthers are seeking their first Atlantic Coast Conference championship on Saturday when they meet Wake Forest in a neutral site game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Thousands of fans will be in uptown to watch the ACC title game between No. 17 Pitt and No. 18 Wake Forest, and from fan activities to road closures, here’s everything you need to know.

THE GAME ITSELF

Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. Saturday. If you don’t have tickets you can watch the big game LIVE on Channel 9.

Conference player of the year Pitt QB Kenny Pickett threw for 40 touchdown passes this season, breaking Dan Marino’s school record of 37. That leaves him one shy of the ACC record held by Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, which was established over the course of a 15-game season in 2016.

Wake Forest last appeared in the game in 2006 when it beat Georgia Tech 9-6 in a defensive struggle.

Clemson has won the last six ACC championships, but the Tigers failed to reach the big game this season.

2021 will be the 10th time Charlotte has hosted the ACC title game, and the Queen City will continue to host it until 2030.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

The Atlantic Coast Conference championship and the honor of officially ending Clemson’s dominant six-year run as champs. The Tigers represented the ACC in the College Football Playoffs for six straight years, but this year’s ACC champion won’t be headed to the playoffs. However, the winner of this game will be attending a more prestigious bowl game than the loser.

KEY MATCHUP

Pitt QB Kenny Pickett vs. Wake Forest’s secondary: Pickett has thrown 79 career TD passes, tied with Marino for the most in school history. He faces a Wake Forest secondary that has been suspect as the season has gone along.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Pitt: WR Jordan Addison is producing at an All-America level. A Biletnikoff Award finalist, Addison leads the country with 17 touchdown catches. That is the most by a Pitt player since 2003 when Larry Fitzgerald had a school-record 22.

Wake Forest: QB Sam Hartman threw for 3,711 yards with 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. Hartman may be listed as a sophomore, but he’s more experienced than you might think having already played in four different seasons for the Demon Deacons.

FACTS & FIGURES

Wake Forest is 1-0 in the championship game, beating Georgia Tech 9-6 in a defensive struggle in 2006. ... Pitt previously played in the title game in 2018, losing to eventual College Football Playoff champion Clemson 42-10. ... Pitt won the only other matchup between the teams 34-13 in 2018. ... Since 2015, coach Pat Narduzzi has directed Pitt to 36 victories in ACC play, the third-highest win total during that span. Only Clemson (52) and Miami (37) have won more. ... After starting the season 9-0, Wake Forest has gone 2-2 since allowing 158 points during that span. The losses came to North Carolina and Clemson.

ROAD CLOSURES

(WATCH: Road closures for ACC FanFest, Championship game)

Third Street between Poplar Street and Mint Street closed on Thursday at 9 a.m. and will reopen on Saturday at 10 p.m.

Saturday closures:

  • Third Street between Poplar Street and Mint Street closed on Thursday at 9 a.m. and will reopen on Saturday at 10 p.m.
  • Graham and Stonewall streets, between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Church Street, will be closed from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.
  • South Mint Street, between Carson Boulevard and MLK Jr. Boulevard, will be closed from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.
  • Levine Avenue of the Arts, between South Church and South Tryon streets, will be closed from 3:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.
  • South Mint Street, between West Stonewall Street and MLK Jr. Boulevard, from 3:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.
  • South Mint Street, between Carson Boulevard and Morehead Street, will be closed from 3:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.
  • West 1st Street, between South Mint and South Church streets, will be closed between 3:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.
  • West Stonewall Street, between South Mint and South Church streets, will be closed between 3:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.
  • MLK King Jr. Boulevard, between South Mint Street and South Church streets, will be closed between 6:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.

FANFEST

FanFest will be the spot to be leading up to the ACC Championship Game. Fans of all ages will find plenty to do, including:

  • Appearances by ACC Network personalities, including Chalk Talk
  • ACC Mascot and school band performances
  • QB Challenge
  • Tailgate games
  • Photo ops
  • Purchase game day merchandise from Fanatics
  • Free giveaways

FanFest will be located one block from Bank of America Stadium.

Schedule of Events:

Friday

  • 5 p.m.: Gates open for FanFest
  • 5 - 6 p.m.: ACC Mascots Appearance
  • 5:30 - 6 p.m.: The Huddle (The Huddle, broadcasting live on ACCN from ACC FanFest – featuring Chris Cotter, Mark Herzlich and Roddy Jones)
  • 6 - 6:30 p.m.: Chalk Talk (ACC Football Champ Game pregame Chalk Talk, featuring talent from ACCN’s The Huddle including Jordan Cornette, EJ Manuel, Mark Richt, and Eric Mac Lain. Plus appearances by former Demon Deacon and All-ACC Tight End Cam Serigne and former Pitt QB and current Pitt radio color commentator Pat Bostick.)
  • 7 - 7:30 p.m: Battle of the Bands
  • 9 p.m.: ACC FanFest ends

Saturday

  • 10 a.m.: Gates open for FanFest
  • 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.: ACC Mascots Appearance
  • 4:15 - 4:30 p.m.: Pitt Band & Cheer Pep Rally
  • 4:15 - 5:50 p.m.: ACC Mascots Appearance
  • 4:45 - 5 p.m.: Wake Forest Band & Cheer Pep Rally
  • 5:30 - 6 p.m.: Chalk Talk (ACC Football Champ Game pregame Chalk Talk – featuring talent from ACCN’s The Huddle, including Kelsey Riggs, Mark Herzlich, Eddie Royal, and Roddy Jones. Plus appearances by former Wake Forest Safety and 2016 Jim Tatum Award winner Ryan Janvion and former Pitt All-American Tight End Dorin Dickerson. Come listen to ACCN’s studio analysts talk about pregame preparations and predictions, and for an opportunity to have your questions answered by the experts.)
  • 6 - 7 p.m.: The Huddle (The Huddle, broadcasting live on ACCN from ACC FanFest – featuring Chris Cotter, Mark Herzlich and Eddie Royal)
  • 7 p.m.: ACC FanFest ends
  • 8 p.m.: Subway ACC Football Championship Game

WHAT WILL THE WEATHER BE LIKE?

Fans in uptown will enjoy a gorgeous evening Friday and those pleasant conditions will continue on Saturday. No rain is in the forecast and temps will be in the 60s Friday.

Expect sunny skies and highs in the low-to-mid 70s (near record highs) on Saturday afternoon before temps fall into the mid-50s by kickoff.