PITTSBURGH — Redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston passed for 356 yards and four touchdowns in a spectacular debut and No. 11 Florida State dominated Pittsburgh 41-13 on Monday night.
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 to the Atlantic Coast Conference. 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, Pitt simply couldn’t keep up with the defending league champions.
Tom Savage passed for 201 yards and a touchdown for Pitt but also threw a pair of interceptions.
Or, as many interceptions as Winston had incompletions.
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.
A star outfielder on the school baseball team, Winston is considered the latest in a line of two-sport threats at Florida State, a list that includes Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and 1992 Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward.
Ward, however, didn’t become a star until he finally cracked the starting lineup as a junior. Winston appears to already be there a game into his career.
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.