Albany native and Florida State Seminoles receiver Rashad Greene (80) reacts after a 23-yard touchdown reception against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the second quarter Monday night at Heinz Field. Greene led FSU in receiving, as well as to a 41-13 rout of the Panthers.
Oregon and Clemson made gains in the latest AP Top 25 poll, but No. 1 Alabama remains atop the college football heap by a wide margin.
The Crimson Tide (1-0) dominated Virginia Tech on Saturday in Atlanta and earned 58 first-place votes.
Oregon (1-0) mopped up Nicholls State and leapfrogged Ohio State to go from third to No. 2 in this week’s poll. The Buckeyes, down one spot to No. 3, received one first-place vote as did Clemson.
The Tigers, fresh off their victory against fifth-ranked Georgia, went from eighth to No. 4, ahead of Stanford and South Carolina. Georgia dropped to No 11. Georgia dropped to No. 11, while FSU moved up one spot to No. 10 after its rout of Pittsburgh on Labor Day.
Clemson’s ranking is its highest in 25 years.
Washington is in the Top 25, propelled by their 38-6 win against Boise State. The Broncos, ranked 19th last week, dropped out of the poll.
Baylor, No. 23, is the only other team to go from unranked in the preseason poll to a spot in this week’s rankings.
FSU, WINSTON SHINE IN OPENER: Much of the hype leading up to Monday night’s Atlantic Coast Conference game between league newbie Pitt and reigning champ Florida State was built around the debut of Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston.
The redshirt freshman did not disappoint at sold-out Heinz Field.
Winston threw four touchdown passes and ran for another score, leading No. 11 Florida State to a 41-13 victory. The 18-year-old completed the first 11 passes of his career and 20 of his first 21 en route to finishing 25 of 27 for 356 yards.
The lone incompletion in Winston’s first 21 attempts was caught by receiver Kenny Shaw, but it was ruled out of bounds.
“I was protected well all night, and when that happens, any quarterback can go out there,” said Winston, who admitted he was anxious before the game. “The reason why I had a good night is because the guys around me had a better night.”
One of the guys who had a great night was Nick O’Leary, who caught three of Winston’s touchdown passes. The junior tight end had four career TD catches coming in. Receiver Rashad Greene, an Albany native and former Westover star, led Florida State with eight receptions for 126 yards.
“He distributed the ball well,” said Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher of Winston. “He found his receivers and he found his tight end. He made great decisions and not pre-determined reads.
“It’s one game. That’s it. But he did a great job, and the reason he had success tonight is that he comes to work every day.”
Winston’s final pass of the night was a 10-yard touchdown toss to O’Leary, polishing off a nine-play, 49-yard drive. That was the Seminoles’ lone touchdown of the second half, and it came with 9:32 remaining in the game, concluding the scoring.
Fisher opted to remove his promising signal-caller following that drive and went with redshirt sophomore Jacob Coker under center for the last couple of series.
“I wasn’t surprised by him because we had never seen him play before,” Pitt coach Paul Chryst said of Winston. “I was certainly impressed with him. He did a good job of making plays and extending plays.”
MANZIEL QUIET FOR A CHANGE: Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said Johnny Manziel would be permitted to meet with the media at some point, but it won’t be this week.
“We feel like right now is not the time,” Sumlin said.
Manziel has been under fire for emotional reactions and apparent jawing with Rice players, though one defender said Manziel simply congratuled him for a nice hit.
“I don’t think him coming out here saying a word is going to change some people’s opinion about who he is,” Sumlin said. “… People want to make a story about everything happening on this team.”
Sumlin said he will not attempt to completely douse Manziel’s fiery on-field demeanor, but the coach is planning to take responsibility to point the redshirt sophomore quarterback’s passion in a positive direction.
Sumlin was critical of media “nowhere near that sideline” for painting Manziel in a negative light without knowing details of the QB-coach conversations.
Sumlin said he made two direct statements to Manziel before benching his quarterback in the fourth quarter, but said he could not repeat those words. He wouldn’t have accepted a response from Manziel, who also took shots from unknowing media who felt he might’ve been ignoring Texas A&M’s second-year coach.
“He was antsy Saturday,” Sumlin said. “What makes him who is … is passion and emotion.”