The Miami Hurricanes have a chance to wrap up their first 9-win season since 2009 when they face the Pitt Panthers on Friday. The two former Big East rivals are playing each other for the first time since 2010
"Obviously Pittsburgh had a big win up at Syracuse and our guys are excited about the opportunity to play up there on Friday," Miami coach Al Golden said this week. "It's going to be a great challenge."
Pitt became bowl eligible for the sixth straight season with that win, a 17-16 squeaker on the road. Miami still has a chance to back into the ACC Championship Game with a win Friday and losses by Duke and Virginia Tech on Saturday (to North Carolina and Virginia, respectively).
When the Canes have the ball: Senior QB Stephen Morris is making his final regular season start, and he will look to go out with a bang. For the year he has completed 59% of his passes for 2,572 yards and 18 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. Leading WR Allen Hurns will try to break the century mark, he is currently sitting at 965 yards receiving on 51 catches (with 5 touchdowns).
RB Dallas Crawford will continue to carry the rushing load with Duke Johnson out, Gus Edwards and Eduardo Clements will also split carries. Miami struggled running the ball against Virginia last weeks, gaining only 90 yards on 25 carries.
Pitt is allowing over 25 points per game, but has one of the best defensive players in the nation in DT Aaron Donald. A finalist for the Bednarik Award, he has 10 sacks and 26 tackles for loss in addition to 4 forced fumbles. Miami will have to account for him all day if they want to come out with a win.
When the Panthers have the ball: Pitt's offense is among the worst in the ACC yardage-wise, with 338 yards per game of total offense. The are gaining a measly 2.7 yards per rush, but WRs Tyler Boyd and Devin Street are a formidable tandem in the passing game.
Boyd has 903 yards receiving on 68 catches, while Street has caught 51 balls for 854 yards. They will be a handful for Miami's depleted secondary. Reserve CBs Nate Dortch and Corn Elder underwent season-ending surgery this week, while Ladarius Gunter (3 interceptions) is also out.
Miami is giving up over 270 yards per game through the air, but they are among the best in creating turnovers. The Canes have forced 25 through 11 games.
The pick: Panthers 31-Canes 24
Kickoff is at 3:30pm ET, with coverage on ABC.