Miami got off to a slow start last week, yet came around in the second half and still managed a 16-point win against Virginia. Now on the road on a short week, the Hurricanes are planning to go into the ACC title Game without a loss. They opened as -14 point road favorites (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) for Friday’s Game against Pittsburgh.
Miami has showed up in its biggest spots this year, but against lesser teams, that hasn’t been the case. While this Game is on Friday, it’s not at night so it will feel like a normal Saturday Game. Pitt hasn’t been good, but played one of its better Games of the season last week, albeit in a losing effort to Virginia Tech. When these teams met last year, it wasn’t close even though the teams had similar records. Miami did whatever it wanted in every phase in a 51-28 win, while Pittsburgh struggled to move the ball. That could easily happen again, although the worry is that the Hurricanes aren’t blowing out teams with losing records and the last road Game they had, barely beat UNC.
Still, Miami is better in about every aspect and that could come through unless Pitt repeats what it did last week. The Hurricanes offense has really stepped up in recent weeks and that’s the big worry for Pitt, which is allowing 412 yards per Game. That said, the Panthers have improved defensively after a rough start to the season and that showed against the Hokies.
Miami has had success running the ball against every opponent this season. Travis Homer has come in and matched what Mark Walton did before his injury. Homer is averaging 6.5 yards per carry and has hit 95 yards in five of the last six Games. In the Games that Miami hasn’t run the ball as well, Malik Rosier has been asked to do more and more often than not he’s done enough to scrape by. Rosier has 23 touchdowns, but has thrown five interceptions in the last three Games.
Pushing Miami over the edge has been the defense and its turnover chain. The Hurricanes don’t have dominant numbers on that side of the field, but are forcing turnovers at a high rate and are still giving up less than 18 points per Game. Pitt’s offense has been hit-or-miss, but has managed to Scoreagainst most opponents this season.
Freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett was given the start last week against Virginia Tech and he did a decent job even if the offense only scored 14 points. He’s getting the start because he’s the most accurate quarterback on the roster and that’s why Ben Dinucci got benched. But if Pitt can’t run the ball, that will only lead to Pickett throwing against an athletic secondary. Running back Darrin Hall was on a stretch of three great Games, but managed just Four yards on 15 carries against VT. If Hall can get somewhere close to 80 yards on the ground, that would be a big help to this offense.
Miami has been hard to trust this season and that’s because you never know what team will show up. That’s the case here and it may be equally difficult to trust them on the road. The Hurricanes are 4-1 ATS in their last five road Games, but 1-4 ATS in their last five ACC Games. The Panthers are just 7-19 ATS in their last 26 home Games. In this meeting, Miami has covered in five of the last six.
Our Pick – Miami -12