Redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston passed for 356 yards and four touchdowns and No. 11 Florida State dominated Pittsburgh, 41-13, on Monday night in Western Pennsylvania.
Winston was nearly flawless, completing 25 of 27 passes and running for 25 yards and a score as the Seminoles gave the Panthers a rude welcome in their Atlantic Coast Conference debut. Rashad Greene caught eight passes for 126 yards and a score and Nick O’Leary hauled in three touchdown passes for Florida State.
The Panthers had been pointing to the opener from the moment the program announced the move from the Big East to the ACC nearly two years ago. Playing in front of a rare sell-out crowd, Pitt simply couldn’t keep up with the defending league champs.
Tom Savage passed for 201 yards and a touchdown for the Panthers, but also threw a pair of interceptions.
Winston won the starting job during training camp, edging out Jacob Coker to become just the third freshman to start a season opener for the Seminoles.
Don’t plan on him giving up the gig anytime soon.
Winston connected on his first 11 passes, missing on his 12th when wide receiver Kenny Shaw couldn’t quite get his right foot all the way inbounds.
The 6-foot-4, 227-pound kid from Hueytown, Ala., nicknamed “Famous Jameis” did a little bit of everything. Twice he pulled himself free from a defensive lineman’s grasp to find a receiver downfield. He converted a first-and-28 with a 36-yard strike to Greene and even served as the lead blocker for Devonta Freeman when the running back broke into the secondary.
Pitt’s defense, which was ranked 17th in the country last season, appeared unsure how to stop him. Wary of the speed of Florida State’s wide receivers, the Panthers gave Greene and company plenty of room to maneuver.
Too much, as it turned out. Way too much.
NCAA RULES ON TARGETING
The Pacific-12 Conference has ruled that California defensive end Chris McCain should not be suspended for the first half this week because a failure of the instant replay process led to his incorrect ejection.
McCain was ejected in the fourth quarter Saturday against No. 22 Northwestern for targeting. Because the penalty came in the second half, McCain was supposed to miss the first half of the upcoming game against Portland State.
But the Pac-12 said that because of a technical failure of the replay process the play was never reviewed.
Ejections for targeting that are confirmed by replay are not reviewable after the game by the conference. But because this play was not reviewed in the game, the Pac-12 was allowed to look at the play.
JONES TO PLAY FOR FLORIDA
No. 10 Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp says running back Matt Jones, who missed the past month while recovering from a viral infection, will play Saturday against Miami.
Muschamp said the Gators “feel pretty good about his progress. As we work through the week, we’ll be able to know how much he will be able to contribute, but he certainly will play.”
Without Jones, backup Mack Brown carried 25 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-6 victory over Toledo in the season opener.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy named J.W. Walsh the team’s No. 1 quarterback and he will start Saturday against Texas-San Antonio. … Northwestern cornerback Daniel Jones will have season-ending knee surgery. Jones was injured in the first half of the Wildcats’ season-opening win at California. … Kentucky coach Mark Stoops named sophomore Maxwell Smith to replace Jalen Whitlow as starting quarterback for Saturday’s home opener against Miami (Ohio). … Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell has a concussion and is doubtful for Saturday’s game against Alcorn State. … Michigan running back Drake Johnson will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL sustained in Saturday’s 59-9 win over Central Michigan.