Pitt Looks to Become Bowl Eligible When it Travels to Miami (Fla.) Saturday

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Pitt looks to become bowl eligible when it travels to Miami (Fla.) for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday.

(Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

Both teams are coming off narrow defeats. The Panthers (5-3 overall, 2-2 ACC) lost 39-36 to nationally ranked Virginia Tech, while the Hurricanes (4-4, 1-3) fell on a late field goal at Notre Dame, 30-27.

Pitt has played a lot of close games with the Panthers’ three losses coming by a combined 11 points. Each of Pitt’s defeats have been to teams currently ranked in the Top 25: No. 18/17 North Carolina, No. 22 Oklahoma State and No. 23/21 Virginia Tech.

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Offensively, the Panthers have the second-highest scoring offense in the ACC at 38.1 points per game. Pitt has scored at least 36 points in seven consecutive games, the longest active streak among FBS teams.

That offense will be challenged by a Miami defense that yields just 18.9 points per game (third in ACC, 16th in FBS). The Hurricanes have held six of their eight opponents to 21 points or less this season.

Pitt’s offense starts with James Conner, who continues to amaze in his comeback season from a knee injury and then cancer. Conner rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns against Virginia Tech’s stingy defense. His 12 total touchdowns this season is second only to Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson among ACC players.

Defensively, the Panthers are led by Ejuan Price, who is making a strong case for All-America and ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors. The senior defensive end ranks first in the nation in tackles for loss (2.0 per game) and second in sacks (1.13 per game). Half of Price’s 32 tackles this season have been behind the line of scrimmage. He has 16 TFLs, nine quarterback sacks and three forced fumbles, staking a claim as college football’s most disruptive defensive lineman.

Price and his teammates will try to contain Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya, who ranks in the all-time top five of five passing categories at Miami, including passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions, attempts and total yards.

On the season, Kaaya averages 248 yards per game and has thrown 13 touchdowns vs. six interceptions.

It’s been a balanced receiving corps for the Miami QB led by Stacy Coley (36 catches, 433 yards, 6 TDs). Ahmmon Richards adds 23 grabs for 488 yards and a TD and David Njoku has 21 catches for 346 yards and two scores.

Mark Walton (649 yards, 9 TDs) and Joe Yearby (494 yards, 6 TDs) lead the Hurrican ground game.

This is the 36th meeting between Pitt and Miami in a series that dates back to 1950 and the fourth ACC matchup between the schools. The Panthers and Hurricanes meet annually as members of the ACC’s Coastal Division. Miami leads the all-time series, 24-10-1. The Panthers are 5-10-1 against the Hurricanes on the road and 5-14 in games played in Pittsburgh. Last season, Miami defeated Pitt, 29-24, at Heinz Field but in 2014, Pitt snapped an eight-game losing streak in the series with a 35-23 triumph in Miami Gardens, Pitt’s first win over Miami since 1997 and the Panthers’ first road win in the series since 1963.

The game is available on the ACC Network and on WTAE, Channel 4, in the Pittsburgh market.


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