Miami’s Regular Season Finale at Pittsburgh Could Be Another Trap Game: What To Watch
Pittsburgh, PA — In light of the most recent College Football Playoff Rankings, pressure keeps mounting for the No. 2 Miami Hurricanes (10-0, 7-0 ACC). Finally jumping the Clemson Tigers (10-1, 8-0 ACC), the Canes are earning the respect they deserve.
The Canes have a better strength of record than Clemson, and both teams are 2-0 vs. CFP top-25 teams. The committee explained their position Tuesday night.
“We have talked about a Miami team that has shown progress over the last three weeks,” said Committee Chair Kirby Hocutt. “They have really strengthened their resume over the last three weeks. We see characteristics of a championship caliber team.”
The Hurricanes and the Tigers will face off in ACC Championship Game, December 2nd. But both teams have tough matchups on the road this weekend and cannot afford to look ahead. Clemson travels to No. 24 South Carolina and Miami travels to 4-7 Pittsburgh, where they struggle to fire on all cylinders in the cold weather.
What’s at Stake
Conviction. Coming into the season, most thought Miami was a year or two away from contending for a National Championship. They were wrong. The Hurricanes are up to No. 2 in latest AP Poll and CFP Rankings. They can even lose to Pitt Friday and still get into the CFP with a win over Clemson.
Some still believe the Canes are overrated, the product of a weak schedule, and due to Miami living on the edge; going down to the wire with sub-par teams.
Who Cares! The objective of the competitive competition is to win and Miami is undefeated. After No. 6 Auburn defeats No. 1 Alabama in the Iron Bowl Saturday, there will be a new No. 1 in College Football.
Miami on Offense
After three home games, Miami must deal with Pittsburgh’s cold weather. Friday’s high will be 52, and the low is 41. However, the Canes will overcome a cold weather with superior talent, coaching and the fact Pittsburgh isn’t very good.
The Panthers give up 411.5 yards a game, and Miami quarterback Malik Rosier will look to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s passing defense, which yields 260.3 yards per contest.
Rosier has totaled 28 touchdowns thus far. He is three scores shy of breaking Vinny Testaverde’s single-season Miami record of 30, set during his Heisman Trophy campaign in 1986. Rosier’s running ability has brought a dynamic to this offense that Miami has never seen before.
Pittsburgh is a bit more stout against the run allowing 151.3 yards per game, but the will be tested with a heavy dose of Hurricanes’ running backs Travis Homer and true freshman DJ Dallas. The Canes have recommitted to the run game this season, averaging 176.7 yards per contest.
In last week’s 44-28 win over Virgina, Miami head coach Mark Richt made it appoint, to get sophomore receiver Ahmmon Richards involved early. He was successful as Richards scored on 10-yard pass from Rosier, Richards seems to be past his nagging hamstring injury this year that caused him to miss three games and ineffective in others.
Expect to see another “vanilla” offensive game plan on Friday. With Clemson on the horizon, the Canes do not want show too much. That could mean another close game and more criticism for letting a sub-par team hang around. It doesn’t matter, with eight of the top-ten teams on the road there will be an upset somewhere, not the Hurricanes.
Miami on Defense
A semi-finalist for the Broyles Award, Hurricanes defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has done a tremendous job leading the defensive unit. The Broyles Award was created in 1996 recognizing Coach Frank Broyles’ legacy of selecting and developing great assistants during his almost two decades as head coach at Arkansas.
Thus far this season, the Hurricanes’ defense is number one in the nation in sacks per game (3.8), fourth in the tackles for loss (9) and have the 15th ranked scoring defense yielding 17.7 points for the contest.
Due to Diaz’s brainchild, the Turnover Chain, Miami has wreaked havoc against opposing teams with interceptions and fumble recoveries. The Canes lead the country in turnover margin (+16), turnovers per game (2.7), and have 19 turnovers over the past five games.
Look for the No. 2 Hurricanes to smother the Panthers the day after Thanksgiving. Pitts offense it below average with 219.9 yards through the air and 148.2 yards on the ground.
Miami’s defense is way too fast for Pitt who only has 11 touchdown passes with eight interceptions on the year. How many times will the Canes breakout the Turnover Chain?
The Panthers’ best chance of moving the ball is running, Miami gets gashed on the ground from time to time. Pitt also has 19 touchdowns on ground as they average 27.7 points per game
Prediction: Pitts will cover the 13.5 point spread (Wed). But the Canes will win convincingly with a score that doesn’t reflect the game.
Miami 31 – Pitt 20
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