At First Glance: Pitt vs. Miami

Mike Ehrmann

Pitt's season comes to a close on Friday against Miami. After defeating Syracuse, the Panthers are already bowl-eligible. But a seventh win will give Pitt a better chance at landing in a slightly better bowl.

Winning against Miami won't be easy, though.

Lots of hope has been given to Pitt fans as the Hurricanes lost three straight games after a 7-0 start. But it's not as if the Hurricanes have been losing to bad teams. First, they were defeated by Florida State, who has beaten down on everyone. After that, they lost to Virginia Tech and Duke. In all three games, Miami was beaten soundly. But again, we're talking about some quality teams there.

Looking at common opponents, it's been a bit of a mixed result. The Panthers beat Duke while Miami lost to them and both teams played equally as bad against Florida State. But Miami routed Georgia Tech and narrowly beat North Carolina while Pitt lost to both schools. Both teams beat Virginia, but the Hurricanes had less trouble. Both teams lost to Virginia Tech, but Pitt did so in a less embarrassing fashion.

Miami gets the slight advantage to me, but there are reasons the Panthers can win, too.

As far as quality wins, it's pretty close but Pitt probably gets a slight edge. The Hurricanes beat Florida early this season in what looked to be a landmark win, but the Gators have since stumbled to a losing season. Miami has quality wins over teams like Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Pitt has the big Notre Dame win and that Duke victory turned out to be a pretty good one.

I like the fact that Pitt gets Miami in a cold-weather environment. Of course that's no guarantee for success, but does it help? Probably a little.

The game is also at home and that's always an advantage. What kind of crowd shows up on a holiday weekend is anybody's guess, but attendance should be better with the win over Syracuse. Throw in the fact that it's Senior Day and the last home game for guys like Aaron Donald and Devin Street, and that's another thing of note.

Lastly, Miami is without star running back Duke Johnson, who is out for the season. The Hurricanes running game has stalled in two of the three games since with only 118 yards combined against the Hokies and Cavaliers.

Add it up and it's a game Pitt can win. But I'm still not convinced the Panthers will come out on top since I think Miami is still a pretty good team. At first glance, Pitt will have a chance, but aren't the favorites.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and manager/editor of Cardiac Hill @AnsonWhaley

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