PITTSBURGH (AP) — Tom Savage spent more than 1,000 days waiting for his return to college football.
For a good 5 minutes, it went better than the Pittsburgh quarterback and his program — making its Atlantic Coast Conference debut — could have imagined.
Savage's first pass since his sophomore season at Rutgers in 2010 went 31 yards to Devin Street. His fourth landed in the hands of Manasseh Garner for a touchdown that gave the Panthers a quick lead on 11th-ranked Florida State.
Then reality — and Seminoles redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston — set it. While Savage fell back to earth, Winston soared as Florida State pulled away for a 41-13 victory.
Winston completed 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another score as the Seminoles showed just how wide the gap between the haves and the have-nots is in Pitt's new conference home.
"I think they're unbelievable," Savage said. "I think they're a great team."
One with a quarterback who might even be better than that.
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 didn't look nearly as prepared for the big stage as the kid nicknamed "Famous Jameis."
"I wasn't surprised by him because we'd never seen him play before," Pitt coach Paul Chryst said. "He did a good job of making plays and extending plays."
Savage passed for 201 yards and a touchdown for Pitt but also threw two interceptions.
Or, as many interceptions as Winston had incompletions.
Still, Savage remained upbeat. Wide receiver Devin Street caught six passes for 141 yards. Freshman wide receiver Tyler Boyd ran three times for 54 yards, caught two passes for 26 yards and nearly broke a kickoff return for a touchdown.
"When I first got out there, I was nervous and shaky, but after I got that first down I was cool after that," Boyd said.
Pitt's defense, which ranked 17th in the country last season, wasn't nearly as poised. At times, it appeared the Panthers were unsure on how to stop Winston. 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. For all of Winston's precision, often he was throwing to teammates who didn't have anybody in dressed in blue within arm's reach.