The Road Begins at Pittsburgh

Football team kicks off season on Saturday

The Spectrum

Last year at this time, the football team demolished an overwhelmed Rhode Island squad in the season opener. This year, Pittsburgh looks to do the same to Buffalo.

The Bulls are massive underdogs as they travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The 65,000 person capacity of Heinz Field yields a massive stage for the Bulls and head coach Jeff Quinn, who enters his second year at Buffalo.

All summer long, the players have anticipated this game. However, the odds are stacked against Buffalo. Pittsburgh has won both of the previous meetings between the teams. The Panthers came out on top, 27-16 at Pittsburgh in 2008, and 54-27 at Buffalo in 2009.

Last year, Pittsburgh finished 8-5 and they defeated Kentucky in the BBVA Compass Bowl. There's a new man in charge this season. Head coach Todd Graham begins his tenure with the Panthers after coaching Tulsa last season.

"We've looked at film of Tulsa as well as film of Pitt," Quinn said. "And we've also looked at Michigan film, because their offensive coordinator came from Michigan."

In addition to co-offensive coordinator Calvin Magee, cornerbacks coach Tony Gibson and tight ends coach Tony Dews came from Michigan.

Pittsburgh's main weapon is running back Ray Graham, who rushed for 922 yards and eight touchdowns last year. The Panthers will look to get the ball to Graham as much as possible.

Pittsburgh sent out a press release including an interview with its head coach.

"Now I want to talk about Buffalo who I believe is a very well-coached football team and a dangerous football team," Todd Graham said. "They look a lot like some of the teams I competed against at Tulsa. They are very skilled and the quarterback is a very accurate passer. I watched some of their films back [when Quinn was] in Cincinnati. I think they have three wide receivers that are special; they can hurt you and can go out and make things happen. I think this whole game is about us going out and performing the best we can. Early in the season I am always a firm believer that the team who makes the least mistakes is going to win. You can't beat yourself."

Much has been made of the youth and size of Buffalo's offensive line. Nine offensive linemen have gained weight since last year, including redshirt freshman Jake Silas, who has gained 54 pounds. Graham, however, thinks his defensive line has the upper hand on Buffalo's protection.

"Obviously if they're playing as freshmen then they must be pretty talented," Todd Graham said. "But I like our guys up against just about anyone. We have a really good defensive line."

Quinn has been adamant in the summer that he has 100 percent faith in his offensive linemen, and he believes that area has been one of the most improved positions on the team.

Saturday marks the first game in a Buffalo uniform for senior quarterback Chazz Anderson.

The Bulls are looking to match their road win total from last year. In 2010, Buffalo went 1-5 away from UB Stadium.

Fans who aren't taking the trip can catch the game on ESPN3.