Pitt kicks off 2011 with a home game against the Bulls.
The Todd Graham era gets underway on Saturday when Pitt takes on the Buffalo Bulls.
Buffalo finished near the bottom in passing and rushing in Division I-A last season and was dead last in scoring, averaging just over 14 points per game. That should change this season with the transfer of former Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Chazz Anderson. Anderson was a backup in Cincy and transferred to Buffalo to rejoin former Bearcats assistant coach Jeff Quinn. Because he's already graduated, Anderson is eligible to play immediately and should be the team's starter in Saturday's game.
Anderson's presence will greatly help the team. It should, for starters, force defenses to respect the pass game a bit more and open up bigger holes for the ground game. That rushing attack, by the way, was pretty abysmal as well last season, ranking near the bottom of Division I.
For the Bulls, Pitt is just the first of three non-conference tests, as they'll also square off against The UConn Huskies and Tennessee Volunteers. The Bulls are no strangers to quality opponents - they've also played Penn State, Wisconsin, Missouri, Auburn, Syracuse, and other BCS programs in the past five seasons. Don't look for them to be awestruck at playing at Heinz Field.
The Panthers come into the game relatively healthy. The only player currently listed as out is linebacker Dan Mason, who missed most of last season after a horrific injury against Miami. It's still possible that Mason could miss the entire season.
The key for Pitt is to keep mistakes down. They have significantly more talent than Buffalo and as long as they don't turn the ball over. New center Ryan Turnley's play will go a long way in determining how successful the offense will be. Pitt needs him to get clean snaps off to quarterback Tino Sunseri for the offense to run properly.
In the end, Pitt should have little trouble with this game. I can see Buffalo scoring some points, but Pitt's defense should be able to keep them in check. for the most part. And in case you can't make it to the game, it will be aired on ESPN3.