Predictions for FSU at Pittsburgh

Florida State opens its season tonight at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The NoleDigest staff looks at the Seminoles' chances and make their picks.

Geoff Vogt: The off-season has seemed like an eternity, but it is officially over at 8:00 Monday when the 2013 Seminoles don the garnet and gold in an ACC game at Pittsburgh. While there have been the usual off-season setbacks—Mario Pender/Willie Haulstead out academically, Jarred Haggins out with an injury, Greg Dent in trouble with the law—all in all it is has been a productive period for the program.

This team is stacked and the only "real" question mark is quarterback Jameis Winston. I do not share that fear as Winston has the tools to be flat out special. I believe that he is a gamer that is going to add a dynamic (making things happen) that has been missing from the offense. There will be some growing pains defensively with a new coordinator, but there is simply too much talent on that side of the ball for Pitt. I think FSU wins this game and pulls away in the second half, 31-10.

Jason Staples: After an excruciatingly long offseason filled with conference realignment news and overanalysis of both FSU losses from 2012, I'm glad to finally get this season underway and have real football to discuss again.

I'm less optimistic about this game than most seem to be. Other than Florida, Pitt matches up better with Florida State on both lines than anyone else on the schedule and will provide a stiff test on the road in this first game.

First games are always marked by missed assignments and sloppier than usual play, so control of the line of scrimmage is that much more important—especially with a first year quarterback. I think Winston will be very good for FSU this year, providing an aggressive downfield passing component the 'Noles largely lacked last year, but Jimbo Fisher and the offensive staff don't want him to have to carry a heavy load in the first game. I think Pitt's outstanding defense will force Winston to make plays to win, and we're bound to see a hiccup or two.

That said, I think the FSU defense forces a couple turnovers, and Winston's feet neutralizing Pitt pressure will be the difference in the game, as I expect a very physical game won in the second half. FSU wins closer than expected, 27-17.


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