Miami Hurricanes Need to Take Advantage of Schedule After Pitt

After the loss to Notre Dame, Miami heads into the home stretch of their schedule with only ACC Games remaining. The Hurricanes host Pittsburgh Saturday and Duke to finish the regular season November 26 with trips to Virginia and North Carolina State in between.

Miami began the season with wins over FBS Florida A&M who had one win in 2015, Florida Atlantic of Conference USA who is 1-7 this season and was 3-9 last season and Georgia Tech who is 2-3 in the ACC after finishing 3-9 in 2015.

The win over Appalachian State is the Hurricanes one quality win this season. The Mountaineers are 6-2 and have won five straight since the ‘Canes went into Boone, North Carolina and defeated App. St. 45-10.

Pittsburgh brings a 5-3 record to the Rock on Saturday. The Panthers are 2-2 in the ACC with wins over Georgia Tech and Virginia and like the ‘Canes, losses to North Carolina and Virginia Tech. The Panthers blew a 36-23 lead against UNC before losing 37-36 in Chapel Hill.

Pitt’s best win of the season was a 42-39 win over 6-2 Penn St., who handed Ohio State its only loss. Miami defeated Pittsburgh 29-24 last year at Heinz Field. The Panthers won the last matchup at the Rock with a 35-23 win in 2014.

Miami has won 17 of the last 19 meetings dating back to 1984. Pittsburgh’s 2014 win broke a Hurricanes streak of eight straight win and 16 out of 17 against the Panthers. Miami leads the all-time series 24-10-1. Pitt is currently third in the Coastal.

Miami’s last three opponents Virginia, NC State and Duke are a cumulative 2-10 in the ACC. Duke is the last place team in the Coastal at 0-4. The ‘Canes and UVA are tied for fifth in the Coastal at 1-3. The Wolfpack is sixth in the Atlantic at 1-3.

Despite their records, Miami cannot take any of these three lightly. Duke has a win at Notre Dame and lost the following week against the Cavaliers. North Carolina State has a win over the Fighting Irish in the remnants of Hurricane Matthew. They also had an opportunity to beat Clemson.

The week after beating the Fighting Irish, the Wolfpack should have beaten the number three Tigers. NC State went on a 14 play, 55-yard drive in 6:39 to attempt the potential game-winning field goal.

After a Clemson timeout to ice the kicker, the Wolfpack’s Kyle Bambard missed a 33-yard field wide right that sent the game to overtime. Clemson scored on their first possession of the OT and they intercepted NC State Quarterback Ryan Finley in the end zone to clinch the win.

The Cavaliers other win this season was over 5-4 Central Michigan who won at number 22 Oklahoma State. They play at Wake Forest Saturday. Losses by both the Canes and Cavs Saturday will set up a big showdown between the Canes and five straight losses against UVA and four straight.

The Hurricanes are holding to a one-game lead in the head to head matchups with UVA. They have won seven of 13 overall, but Virginia has won four of the last six. That included a three-game winning streak from 2010-12.

The most memorable Cavalier win against Miami came in 2007 when they defeated the Hurricanes 48-0 in UM’s last game at the Orange Bowl. Miami won 27-21 at the Rock last year.

It seems appropriate that Miami and Duke will meet on the last weekend of the regular season. Last season’s Hurricane Miracle in Durham will go down as one of the greatest in school history.

Miami leads the all-time series with Duke 11-2. The Blue Devils got their first win against Miami since 1976 three years ago in Durham. They blew open a close game in the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils led 31-28 after three. Duke outscored the Hurricanes 17-0  in the fourth quarter to win 48-20.

It’s a cliche to say the ‘Canes have to put October behind them, but they have no other choice. Although they will not be able to accomplish their goal of winning the Coastal and Advancing to their first ACC Championship game, the ‘Canes can still make a Bowl game.

The last month of the season plus an extra few weeks with a bowl game will give Mark Richt, Manny Diaz, and the Miami coaching staff and give a very young team a chance to grow.

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