As many know Miami has been described as the “miracle team” of this year. The Canes for a span of four weeks straight (week six-week nine) barely beat each team they faced off against.
They barely beat a 4-6 FSU team who has absolutely zero offense (unless they play Delaware State) 24-20 on a last second touchdown, they barely beat an average 5-5 Georgia Tech team who may not even bowl eligible this year 25-24 on a last second field goal, they barely slipped past a 4-7 Syracuse team who won’t be bowling this year 27-19, and in the final week of this span they slipped past a 3-8 UNC team 24-19.
That 3-8 UNC team three wins come against Old Dominion, Western Carolina and yes you guessed it Pitt. One of the four wins Syracuse has comes in a close game against Pitt. Most recently, Miami barely slipped away with a victory after being down 28-14 to Virginia last weekend, a team that Pitt beat pretty soundly.
I normally don’t like playing the comparing game where you go, “oh well they beat them and we beat them so that means we have a chance.” This time though, I am going to pull out that card. Barely slipping past these teams that a 4-7 Pitt team managed to either come close to beating or did beat is not a very good look for this Canes team. I’m a firm believer that a win is a win, however, at some point Miami’s luck is going to run out.
I have said it many times on the best ACC Football podcast online, Going Coastal, Miami is not as good as everyone seems to think. They are an above average team only because of their great defense, as they only have an average offense in my eyes.
Miami has everything to play for as they are fighting for a bid to be in the college football playoff. Pitt on the other hand has nothing to lose, in this game they are just playing spoiler to a Miami team’s hopes and dreams. I’ll get to my prediction later, however, if either team wants to come away from this Friday night matchup with a win, there are a few keys to victories for each.
PITT KEYS TO VICTORY
- Utilize The Run Game
- Last week, Pitt played one of the best rush defenses in the nation in Virginia Tech and Darrin Hall couldn’t do much of anything. On 15 carries, Hall only went for four yards and Pitt only ran for 55 yards total in the game. The Jet Sweep to Quadree Henderson worked well as on two carries he picked up 26 yards. Miami has a much better pass defense, so this week will be opposite to last week in some ways. The run game will need to be on if Pitt wants to pull an upset and we are going to have to see a big game from Hall and Henderson.
- Kenny Pickett Needs To Come Ready To Play
- Pickett last week threw for 242 yards coming in off the bench after three DiNucci drives that resulted in a punt, touchdown and interception. Pickett played his best game yet and you could tell he was really getting a feel for this offense. Another good game from him is going to be crucial for this Pitt team to come away with a win.
- Secondary Needs To Play Well
- Pitt has done well at it at times this year, other times not so much. The Pitt defense really limited the Virginia Tech offense this past week. One guy who really jumped out to me was Avonte Maddox, he absolutely locked up those Virginia Tech receivers. If the secondary can play well that will be a big help to Pitt coming away with a big time upset.
MIAMI KEYS TO VICTORY
- Defense Needs To Force Turnovers
- The turnover chain has been the talk around the nation and Miami has been using it very often. Last week they brought it out three times as they forced three turnovers against a Virginia team that ultimately helped propel them to a victory. If they can come out and force a young Kenny Pickett to make mistakes that result in turnovers they will have a very good chance to hold off the upset and stay undefeated.
- Offense Needs To Have A Good Game
- Malik Rosier is facing a secondary who has been very on and off this season. Last week they shut down Virginia Tech, however, at other times this season teams like Oklahoma State have had their way with the secondary. Rosier isn’t no Mason Rudolph, however, Rosier having a big game would almost be a guarantee a Miami win.
- Control Field Position
- Miami needs to control field position because if they can pin a young Kenny Pickett deep in his own territory it could go far into deciding this game and helping the key that they need to do and force turnovers. Controlling field position will be crucial to a Miami win.
Last year when Pitt played the number two team in the nation everyone remembers what happened they pulled the upset. This year expect the same.
I think that Pickett is going to have himself a game alongside Hall and Henderson. On top of this I think the defense is going to shut down Miami’s offense. I’m expecting a 24-20 Pittsburgh upset.
This game can be seen on Friday at 12:00 PM on ABC.