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August 10, 2013

Countdown to Labor Day: 23

The countdown to the start of the 2013 season is under way, as Pitt is 23 days away from its Labor Day opener against Florida State at Heinz Field. Panther-Lair.com is counting down the days until the biggest season opener in recent memory.

Today's number is 23, so we're looking a memorable game against Florida State.

This series is counting down to Pitt's 2013 season opener against Florida State, but that won't be the first time the Panthers face the Seminoles. Pitt and Florida State have met on the football field eight times since 1971, and the Panthers hold a 5-3 advantage in the series.

Pitt also enters this game riding a three-game winning streak, although the series has been on hiatus since 1983. But that winning streak started with a pretty impressive game in Pittsburgh on October 17, 1981.

On that day, Dan Marino became the all-time leading passer in Pitt history, but the star of the game was arguably running back Bryan Thomas, who ran 23 times for a remarkable 217 yards and two touchdowns. Pitt beat Florida State 42-14, giving the Panthers a 5-0 record and moving them to No. 2 in the Associated Press poll.

Of course, Pitt would go on to win five more games before heading into the season finale against Penn State at 10-0, and Panther fans don't need a reminder of that game.

Thomas finished the 1981 season with 1,132 yards and seven touchdowns on 217 carries (5.2 yards per carry). He also tied Julius Dawkins for the team lead in receptions with 46 catches. He was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round of the 1983 NFL Draft.

But things didn't work out in Green Bay, so Thomas opted to go to the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL, where he played for coach Jim Mora. He carried the ball 88 total times in two seasons for the Stars (who moved to Baltimore in his second season) and gained 309 yards and four touchdowns.

Previous entries in the Countdown

Countdown: 24 - The first-round draft picks
Countdown: 25 - A number with a strong recent history
Countdown: 26 - One of the earliest stars
Countdown: 27 - A 1920's star
Countdown: 28 - History in the making
Countdown: 29 - The fourth national title
Countdown: 30 - A team loaded with NFL players
Countdown: 31 - The fifth national title
Countdown: 32 - The longest winning streak
Countdown: 33 - The best to wear the uniform
Countdown: 34 - The backup to a legend
Countdown: 35 - A brief but superlative career
Countdown: 36 - National championship No. 7
Countdown: 37 - A shared passing record
Countdown: 38 - Sutherland's last year
Countdown: 39 - "Dandy Dick" Cassiano
Countdown: 40 - The unheralded tackling machine
Countdown: 41 - Another versatile mid-century athlete
Countdown: 42 - One of the greatest
Countdown: 43 - Pitt vs. the 2013 opponents
Countdown: 44 - An unfortunate score
Countdown: 45 - The Rhino
Countdown: 46 - The great Bimbo
Countdown: 47 - A huge effort in a tough loss
Countdown: 48 - The highest-scoring game
Countdown: 49 - The sack master
Countdown: 50 - The winningest coach in Pitt history
Countdown: 51 - A kicking record
Countdown: 52 - The link between Goldberg and Dorsett
Countdown: 53 - The legacy of Henry Ford
Countdown: 54 - A "Corny" mid-century quarterback
Countdown: 55 - Pitt makes history
Countdown: 56 - Panthers in the Super Bowl
Countdown: 57 - A unique scoring title
Countdown: 58 - Another Dorsett record
Countdown: 59 - The rare 59-point game
Countdown: 60 - A record that won't be broken
Countdown: 61 - Pitt's longest-running rivalry
Countdown: 62 - The last touchdown against Penn State
Countdown: 63 - The No Bowl Panthers
Countdown: 64 - The most passes in a game
Countdown: 65 - The other 13-9
Countdown: 66 - A local star
Countdown: 67 - One-win seasons
Countdown: 68 - The most prolific receiving game
Countdown: 69 - One of the biggest plays in Pitt history
Countodwn: 70 - The origin of Pitt's nine championships
Countdown: 71 - A good player in a bad era
Countdown: 72 - An All-American who became a dentist
Countdown: 73 - May Day
Countdown: 74 - A "groundwork" season
Countdown: 75 - A successful DL-to-OL move
Countdown: 76 - The 1976 national championship
Countdown: 77 - The last three-sport athletes
Countdown: 78 - An underrated pro
Countdown: 79 - One of the best
Countdown: 80 - The greatest non-championship team in Pitt history
Countdown: 81 - A crushing end to a great season
Countdown: 82 - The dawn of the Foge Era
Countdown: 83 - The most accurate kicker in Pitt history
Countdown: 84 - Pitt in the Pro Bowl
Countdown: 85 - A play that will never be matched
Countdown: 86 - A long but unfulfilled play
Countdown: 87 - The final year of Ironhead
Countdown: 88 - Pitt's All-American tradition
Countdown: 89 - Iron Mike
Countdown: 90 - The four 9-0's
Countdown: 91 - The two longest plays in Pitt history
Countdown: 92 - The senior year of the most productive QB in Pitt history
Countdown: 93 - The only 9-3 season in Pitt history
Countdown: 94 - The statistical oddity of 1994
Countdown: 95 - A relentless player and his dominant season
Countdown: 96 - The biggest win in Pitt history
Countdown: 97 - A dominant current Panther
Countdown: 98 - A transition year
Countdown: 99 - Hugh Green
Countdown: 100 - A look at Pitt in 1913

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