Paul Chryst is set to begin his third season as coach at Pittsburgh and, like his first two years, he will again watch a different starting quarterback under center in the opener as the Panthers host Delaware on Saturday. Chad Voytik, a sophomore with only six completions and 116 yards in his portfolio, takes over for Tom Savage. The Panthers are looking for an improved second season in the ACC.
Pittsburgh left the Big East after the 2012 season and finished with two wins in its final three games last year, but went just 3-5 in its new league. The Panthers have played in a bowl in six straight seasons, and Chryst won his first last year - 30-27 over Bowling Green in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl -- but they haven't reached 10 wins since 2009. The Blue Hens, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association in the FCS, are coming off a 7-5 season in which they lost their final three games.
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ABOUT DELAWARE (2013: 7-5): Senior Michael Johnson, a formidable dual-threat option for the Blue Hens who can stretch the Panthers defense, caught 60 passes for 1,035 yards last season and rushed for 159 on 13 carries, totaling 11 touchdowns. Senior quarterback Trent Hurley begins his third season as the starter after throwing for 2,207 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. "It is an opportunity for our players to step up a level, and for three hours, compete and show who they are," coach Dave Brock told reporters.
ABOUT PITTSBURGH (2013: 7-6): The Panthers defense is seeking a return to its 2012 form when it finished 17th in the country at 330.5 yards allowed per game. Pittsburgh slipped off that pace in the ACC last season, giving up an average of 27.2 points and 367.5 yards, and now must deal with the loss of tackle Aaron Donald -- an All-American and NFL first-round draft choice. "Every game we play this year, is one that we can win, or lose," Chryst told reporters, "and for us, it's about your approach and your understanding of the opportunity."
1. Pittsburgh is 10-1 all-time against the FCS, but lost 31-17 to Youngstown State in Chryst's debut on Sept. 1, 2012.
2. Delaware has won six national titles and has been to the postseason 20 times.
3. Pittsburgh is 79-43-2 all-time in season openers, but is 0-2 under Chryst.
PREDICTION: Pittsburgh 45, Delaware 25