PITTSBURGH – Led by a harassing defense, streaking Pittsburgh has put behind it an opening-day loss to Virginia and has its sights focused on a second straight Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title. The Panthers seek a fifth straight win when they host a Miami team on Saturday that is coming off a humiliating home loss at Georgia Tech.
TV: Noon ET, ESPN. LINE: Pittsburgh -5.5.
Pittsburgh raised its FBS-best sack total to 36 with nine against Syracuse - the most in a game since 2001 - while Kenny Pickett passed for 232 yards and two touchdowns in last Friday's 27-20 win against Syracuse in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. "We've got some guys up front that are just playing relentless. I just see the pockets collapsing," coach Pat Narduzzi said of his front seven that has helped the Panthers to a 2-1 division record - one-half game behind Virginia. "A couple of those, you see the pocket get collapsed. That's when everybody is doing the right thing." One week after saving its season with a win over Virginia, Miami coach Manny Diaz finds himself on the proverbial hot seat after last weekend's 28-21 overtime loss to a Georgia Tech squad that lost at home to FCS foe The Citadel earlier this season. "I'll take the negativity. I'm responsible for it, and I'll accept it," Diaz said Monday in a press conference. "And it sucks that we're having to go through this. No one's more disappointed in our record than I am. But I am also as confident as ever that this team will continue to stick together and this team will continue to fight for one another. And the results are going to come."
ABOUT MIAMI (3-4, 1-3 ACC)
N'Kosi Perry completed 16-of-28 passes for 188 yards and two TDs to go along with a rushing score, but his fourth-down pass to Brevin Jordan ended the game after it was completed just inches shy of a first down following a review. Both Perry (67-for-112, 871 yards, 8 TDs, 1 interception) and freshman Jarren Williams (90-of-127, 1,086 yards, seven TDs, three INTs), who beat out Perry for the starting job in fall camp, are nursing shoulder injuries and it's uncertain who will start Saturday; Williams, who leads the ACC in completion percentage (71.4), is also second in passer rating (157.4) and yards per attempt (8.6). Sophomore Cam'ron Harris stepped in for an injured DeeJay Dallas (486 yards, six TDs, 6.7 yards per carry) and rushed 18 times for a career-high 136 yards - the most by a Hurricane this season; Harris entered with 146 yards on 39 carries.
ABOUT PITTSBURGH (5-2, 2-1)
Pickett leads the ACC in completions (154) and attempts (257) but is 10th in passer efficiency rating (119.4), while Maurice French leads the conference with 56 receptions and Taysir Mack is third with 45 - their combined 101 receptions is the most by any FBS receiving duo. Junior running back A.J. Davis returned from a two-game injury absence and rushed 16 times for 103 yards, both career-high marks, added a five-yard TD run and converted the most important first down of the game, gaining three yards on a third-down play that allowed the offense to enter victory formation and end the game. The Panthers are averaging 5.14 sacks per game - one more than any other team - and are led by sophomore defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman, whose one sack per game ranks first in the ACC (tied) and 12th nationally; Miami has surrendered the fourth most sacks in FBS (31).
1. A victory over the Hurricanes would give Pitt five consecutive wins for the first time since 2009 when Dave Wannstedt's Panthers reeled off six straight.
2. The last time Miami visited (2017 regular-season finale), it was ranked No. 2 in the country before dropping a 24-14 decision in Pickett's first start.
3. Miami senior LB Shaq Quarterman has started 46 straight games - the second-longest streak in FBS. He had a team-high 13 tackles against Georgia Tech, including two tackles for loss, two hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery
PREDICTION: Pittsburgh 27, Miami 10