Florida State-Pittsburgh Preview Capsule
No. 11 Florida St. at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: Florida State by 10.
Series record: Pitt leads 5-3.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Welcome to the ACC, Pitt. The Panthers make their long awaited debut in their new conference on national television against longtime league power Florida State. No pressure or anything. The Seminoles are in the midst of a transition year themselves as redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston replaces the departed E.J. Manuel. Still, expectations remain high and a dominant performance against the rebuilding Panthers could send a message to the rest of the league the Seminoles are simply reloading.
Pitt’s offensive line against Florida State’s front seven. If the Panthers want to start off life in the ACC with a bang, they need to control the clock. It won’t be easy behind a retooled offensive line and a backfield still searching for an identity after Rushel Shell transferred to West Virginia in the offseason. Coach Paul Chryst helped turn Wisconsin into a perennial Big Ten contender behind hulking lines that paved the way for whoever had the ball in their hands. He’s attempting to do it again with the Panthers.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Florida State: WR Rashad Greene. The speedy junior ranked third in the country last season in punt return average (15.4) including two touchdowns. He can flip the field at any time and Pitt’s special teams are a question mark.
Pitt: DT Aaron Donald. The senior led the Big East in tackles for a loss last season (18.5) and is a disruptive force on a defense that ranked 17th in the country in fewest yards allowed. Surrounded by youth, Donald will get plenty of attention from the Seminoles.
FACTS & FIGURES
Pitt has won the last three meetings, though the most recent victory came in 1983. ... The Seminoles are the highest-ranked season-opening opponent Pitt has faced since it played then fifth-ranked North Carolina in 1982. ... Florida State defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri was an All-American linebacker at Pitt from 1979-82. ... His son, Tino, spent three years as Pitt’s starting quarterback from 2010-12. The Seminoles had a league-high six players selected to the preseason All-ACC team.