The Pittsburgh Panthers' move to the Atlantic Coast Conference could pay off sooner than expected, as sources have told ESPN's Brett McMurphy that the league and the Orange Bowl are close to finalizing a new deal. The contract would guarantee that the ACC champion would play against either Notre Dame, an Southeast or Big Ten Conference school starting after the 2014 regular season. Pitt is set to join the ACC in June 2013.
Though the process of selecting the ACC's opponent has yet to be determined, the new contract is another step toward securing the league's stability as the Bowl Championship Series disappears and the Football Bowl Subdivision moves to a four-team playoff format in 2014.
The Orange Bowl is the third major bowl game to to lock up a format for selecting its matchups, as the Rose Bowl will feature the Big Ten and Pac-12 teams, while the Champions Bowl will feature a SEC/Big 12 showdown.