When Paul Chryst and the Pitt Panthers take the field Monday night against No. 11 Florida State at Heinz Field, Paul Chryst may be handed the opportunity of a lifetime.
It’s been quite some time since a Pitt football team has the opportunity that the 2013 squad has-opening the season on national television against a national power at home.
There’s no other football going on Labor Day night so the eyes of every college football fan in the world will be tuned in to watch the Panthers and Seminoles. That being said, there may never be an opportunity like this one for this program to make a statement again.
The question is will the Panthers realize that opportunity and take advantage of it.
Chryst wants to turn this Pitt program into a national power. One way to get started on that path is to win big games such as this one.
Win the game and much more attention will get paid to the Pitt program throughout the season.
Lose the game though and it’s just the same old average to below average Pitt team that’s supposed to come up short in these situations.
It will be tough for this Panthers team as opening with a team like Florida State is much more difficult than the traditional cupcake that Pitt may normally open with. But considering the fact that Pitt lost to Youngstown State to begin the season last year, I kind of like the idea. Not only is this game great for exposure, but opening with a good football team provides a litmus test to see exactly where this team is at.
However if the Panthers were to have a chance to upset a team like Florida State, there may not be a better opportunity than getting them right off the bat. Florida State will be starting a brand new quarterback with no experience, so there could be an opportunity for the Pitt defense to force more mistakes than normal.
That’s the key for the anthers as this game could come down to which defense forces the opposing signal caller into the most mistakes,
It is up to Pitt’s Tom Savage or Florida State’s Jameis Winston to manage the game better for their respective team. Savage will be making his first start for Pitt after making stops at Rutgers and Arizona and Winston will be making his first collegiate start. Savage’s last start was in 2010.
Pitt will have emotional advantage in front of what should be a sold-out Heinz Field; however, emotion can only carry a team so far.
The Panthers are out-classed by the talent and overall team speed of the Seminoles, but if they can keep it close in the fourth quarter, that emotion could make a real difference.
Play this game in the middle of the season and there is a good chance that the Panthers get waxed 10 out of 10 times. But play this game to kick off the season and Pitt may have a very good chance to pull off the shocker.
There have been some monumental upsets throughout sports over the past couple of decades: Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson; Appalachian State over Michigan; Florida Gulf Coast winning twice in the NCAA Tournament; the Giants over the Patriots in the Super Bowl; the Miracle on Ice.
You can see where I’m going with this.
While it is true that if Pitt wins this game it won’t have the impact on the national sports world that any of the historic upsets through time did, but you could argue that it could have a monumental type of impact on a Pitt program that desperately needs something big to happen in a positive way.
Should Pitt pull the upset, they will send a message to the ACC and the rest of the college football world that they can play with and defeat any team on any given day.
Should they lose however and it’s hard to fault anyone for thinking “Same Old Pitt.”
The opportunity is sitting there for Chryst and the Panthers to come away with a historic win for the program.
We will see if they take advantage.
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