NCAAF: Miami takes final shot at bowl eligibility against Pitt
The Miami Hurricanes have one more chance to become bowl eligible, and it will come on Saturday night in an ACC battle against the visiting Pittsburgh Panthers.
Miami (5-6, 3-4) opened as a six-point underdog against Pitt (7-4, 4-3) in what will serve as the regular-season finale for both teams.
The Hurricanes lead the annual series 29-11-1, and has won four in a row over Pitt.
However, Miami is coming off a 40-10 loss at Clemson and has yet to beat a team with a winning record this season.
Pitt, meanwhile, will enter Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium on a three-game winning streak. Those victories were over Syracuse, Virginia and Duke.
Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi said he will have his team practice indoors this week to prepare for Miami’s heat and humidity.
“We’ll turn it up to 70 degrees,” Narduzzi said.
Weather reports indicate it will be in the 80s in Miami on Saturday night.
The Hurricanes struggled against Clemson, gaining 30 yards on 24 runs. Miami’s top two running backs, Henry Parrish Jr. and Jaylan Knighton, combined to rush 12 times for 20 yards.
“We didn’t get a ton of movement up front,” Miami coach Mario Cristobal said in an understatement.
One factor that could swing Saturday’s game would be the return of Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke. The Hurricanes are 2-3 since he hurt his throwing shoulder against Duke, and it’s possible he could be back to face Pitt.
In his absence, Miami has turned to true freshman Jacurri Brown, who has flourished as a runner (4.4 average) but has lacked accuracy as a passer (59.5 percent completion rate, three touchdowns, two interceptions).
Pitt quarterback Kedon Slovis hasn’t been great, either, completing 57.8 percent to go with seven touchdown passes and eight interceptions.
The Panthers are powered by running back Israel Abanikanda, who leads the ACC in rushing yards (1,320) and points (116). He has rushed for 18 touchdowns and a 5.9 average.
Pitt’s Jared Wayne ranks fifth in the league with 807 receiving yards.
Defensively, Pitt’s Calijah Kancey leads the league in tackles for loss (14 1/2) and is tied for second in the ACC with 7 1/2 sacks. Teammate SirVocea Dennis has 10 1/2 tackles for loss.
Miami’s Akheem Mesidor has 10 1/2 tackles for loss and is tied for fifth in the league with seven sacks.
–Field Level Media