Miami at Pittsburgh
Friday, 9 am PT - ABC
CRIS Opener: Miami -13.5 O/U 50
CRIS Current: Miami -11.5 O/U 51.5
Miami has risen up to #2 in the latest college football playoff rankings, yet the Canes are primed to be tested at Pitt in early start action on Friday. Mark Richt’s squad is coming off three huge, marquee victories all at home. In statement games against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, Miami dominated, controlling the flow throughout. Last week, against Virginia, Miami roared back from an early deficit with a furious fourth quarter rally.
A road trip to Pittsburgh in late November is no easy task for this warm weather squad in a normal season. This year, given what Miami has already been through in recent weeks, it’s a MONSTER trouble spot, especially with the lookahead to the ACC title game against Clemson on deck. Quote after quote from the Miami locker room is concerning to me – lots of lookahead, lots of talk about what they don’t want to do (which often leads to the exact opposite effect).
Let’s not forget that the Hurricanes have been living on turnover margin, forcing 19 turnovers in their last five games – that won’t last forever. Nor should we forget the previous struggles this Hurricanes team has had on the highway – barely escaping past struggling Florida State (4-6, won by only four points) and North Carolina(3-8, won by only five points) in their only two road games since September.
Pitt has been hanging around as a moneywinning underdog against superior competition for most of the season. We saw them cover wire-2-wire at +20 at Penn State, knock off Duke with an outright upset at +9 and hang tough with Virginia Tech just last week; throwing for more than 300 yards against that stout Hokies defense on the road in a spread covering loss.
In four meetings between these schools over the past four years, Miami has only one win by more than ten points; a competitive series. All the pressure is on the road favorite here; a situation that this program hasn’t been in for many years. Their defense just allowed a season high in passing yards and total yards last week. Meanwhile Pitt has found their QB of the future in Kenny Pickett, a playmaking frosh with a big arm.
At 4-7, this is Pitt’s bowl game. Senior CB Avonte Maddox: “History is a great thing, but we live in the now. It’s time to create more history...I see it every day (in practice). You know when guys lose, they throw the towel in. This team hasn’t thrown the towel in yet... These guys (are) willing to lay it all on the line.”