Pitt threw the college football world into chaos in the final week of its regular season 10 years ago with a 13-9 victory over then No. 2 West Virginia.
Friday, Pitt beat the No. 2 team in the country again. The Panthers stifled the Miami offense all day and bled the clock with a perfect fourth-quarter drive to get a 24-14 win to beat the Hurricanes. The loss knocks Miami from the ranks of the unbeaten and undoubtedly from the top four of the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings.
Heck, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi even referenced that 2007 game when a 4-7 Pitt team stunningly beat the Mountaineers in his halftime interview with ESPN.
“It happened in West Virginia when we knocked off No. 2, it happened in South Carolina and it’s happening here Pittsburgh today,” Narduzzi said.
He ended up being correct, and it’s a loss that will have massive playoff implications.
Narduzzi called it at halftime. pic.twitter.com/wV0c2C1u6Z
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) November 24, 2017
Miami, 10-1, had been living dangerously throughout the 2017 season. Wins over North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Syracuse were closer than they needed to be. But the Hurricane defense always came up big and Miami kept winning.
The defense did its job again on Friday. It forced two turnovers. The offense that takes much of the blame for this loss.
Miami even made a quarterback change in the fourth quarter with the Panthers winning by 10. It didn’t work. The Hurricanes went 3 and out and Zach Feagles ended up punting. Feagles punted 10 times.
The pass game was dreadful and the run game was even more so. Malik Rosier — who gave way to Evan Shirreffs in the fourth for a series before returning — was just 15-34 passing for 187 yards and two scores. The Hurricanes ran for just 47 yards overall.
Miami’s first touchdown came in the second quarter when Rosier found Ahmmon Richards for a 23-yard score. That gave the Hurricanes a 7-3 lead, but Pitt QB Kenny Pickett scored a rushing touchdown with 35 seconds left that gave the Panthers a 10-7 lead at the break.
Pitt, 5-7, tacked on an insurance touchdown when Pickett threw a shovel pass Qadree Ollison in the third quarter. And then the freshman QB got his third score of the day when he scored a 22-yard touchdown on a fourth-down bootleg. Miami got its second touchdown of the day only after Pitt had gone up three scores.
The final Pitt score capped a 12-play, 90-yard drive that lasted over 90 minutes. It was the first time all day the Miami defense had been overmatched. But that sometimes happens late in a game when your offense has been impotent.
Wisconsin will likely take Miami’s spot in the top four. But that’s assuming everything else goes as planned this weekend. And things haven’t gone much to plan this college football season.
We are pretty confident the Miami loss means the ACC won’t get two teams in the College Football Playoff. Had unbeaten Miami lost next week to Clemson, the Hurricanes could have snuck into the playoff at 12-1 while Clemson also got in at 12-1. That possibility is gone. The loser will have two losses.
Because of the unpredictability of college football, the Hurricanes’ playoff hopes aren’t dead. A convincing win over Clemson may be enough to get Miami into the top four on Dec. 3. But after watching the Hurricane offense struggle Saturday, it’s hard to envision a blowout win over one of the most talented teams in the country.
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