The No. 19 Miami Hurricanes blow into Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA to take on the Pitt Panthers in an ACC versus Big East match up this Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.
The Miami Hurricanes (1-1) are coming off a bye week in which they had time to recover from a very physical, mistake riddled 36-24 loss to No. 2 Ohio State on Sept. 11.
They will look to clean up their act against a Pitt team that does not present nearly as many challenges as the Buckeyes did.
The first thing that needs to be corrected is the sloppy ball handling and poor decisions early in the game by Miami QB Jacory Harris. His four interceptions, especially one that ended a scoring chance that would have closed the gap to just two points early in the third quarter, were just too much for this offense to overcome.
Dating back to last season, Harris has now thrown 12 interceptions and just five TD’s in the Hurricanes last five losses. It is important to note that three of those interceptions can be credited to his wide receivers dropping passes or running incorrect routes.
RB Damien Berry had a fairly productive game against the Buckeyes, rushing for 94 yards on 16 carries for a 5.9 average yards per carry. Look for Berry, Lamar Miller, and the running game to be a big part of Miami’s game plan against the Panthers who boast one of the best pass rushing defensive lines in the country.
Pittsburgh (1-1) is coming off a bye week as well, after pounding out a 38-16 win over New Hampshire two weeks ago. This game followed a bitter opening day 27-24 OT loss to Utah that knocked the Panthers from the ranks of the top 25. Pittsburgh was an underdog coming into the Utah game despite being ranked No. 15 at the time.
The Panthers are led by QB Tino Sunseri, who has completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 459 yards and three TD’s this season. Running Back Dion Lewis has been the workhorse for the Panthers, leading the team with 35 carries for 102 yards.
Expect Pitt to try and establish the run early in this game in order to open up some opportunities for Sunseri to take a few shots deep down field.
The Hurricanes and Panthers are old conference rivals from their days in the Big East, but they have not met since 2003 because of Miami’s move to the ACC. In their last meeting Miami came away with a 28-14 win against the Panthers.
The Panthers defense will have to keep this game close by keeping pressure on Harris, and may find some success early with one of Miami’s offensive lineman Joel Figueroa possibly not playing on Thursday.
Expect the Hurricanes to bottle up Lewis and force Tin Sunseri to beat them with his arm, and the Miami offense will break through in the second half to put this game away.
Final Score – Miami 31 – Pitt 20