MMQB: Miami Win

What a final third to a college football season! After two losses against Louisville and then #21 North Carolina by a combined score of 62-34 not too many Pitt fans thought we’d go on a tear and sweep the last four games. That ending put us at a firm 8-4 (again) and sets us up with a better bowl and opponent in the post-season hopefully. That happened with a 42-16 win over Miami.

22 Sked

Those four wins were done, mostly, on the strength of our defense who really tightened their belts. Then in this last game QB Kedon Slovis broke out of a season-long slump to throw for 256 yards and 3 TDs with 1 INT for a high QB rating of 169.3

Isn’t it interesting that his first game against WVU in the opener and his last game against Miami he had great QB ratings (188.2 & 169.3 respectively) but was pretty horrid in-between. Honestly, I’m not sold on him for next season but that’s pretty far away.

I wrote in the predictions thread that this game was going to be all about turnovers and whomever had the most would win. We went out and did that – converting a first Miami drive INT into seven points. Had another INT on the second UM drive but that didn’t pan out as points for us.

Those types of failed opening drives tend to wear away a team’s confidence and I think that happened Saturday as UM couldn’t really do much of anything after that. They were pretty beaten down as at one point we held a 35-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

You can tell a lot about how a team’s offense did by looking at what their drive-extending 3rd down conversation rate was. In Miami’s case it stunk at 3 for 12 (25%). If a team doesn’t get that rate up to 50% or above they most probably won’t be scoring many points.

Our RB, Israel Abanikanda was spot-on again rushing for 111 yards and two TDs for a 7.4 ypc average. Pretty much in line with his sterling season’s totals of 1431 yards with 20 TDs and a 6.0 ypc average. That friends is a damn solid season of play. Anytime a RB can average 6.0 ypc on a starting back’s number of carries he’s done a fine job.

Here is how he stacks up with our other very good Panther RBs:

Since Abanikanda is but a Junior this season we might see him in a Pitt uniform again next season…but let’s be honest here in that great Pitt RBs in this ‘modern’ age tend to leave Pitt as quickly as they can (save Conner with extenuating circumstances). So a fourth season from him might not happen.

Here are the final ACC standings and below that is a prediction of where Pitt will play in our bowl game:

At this time some pundits have us playing Cincinnati in the Military Bowl down here in Annapolis, MD. I say Hell Yes!! as the stadium is perfect, the city is perfect and the bars are perfect. What more could you want? Interesting that Wisconsin just named Luke Fickell, Cincy’s current HC, to take the place of Paul Chryst who was just canned by the Badgers. Maybe he sticks around Cincy for that last match but I doubt it – he’ll probably be gone thus raising the opportunity for Pat Narduzzi to better his current 1-4 record in post-season games by playing an interim HC.

I do hope this happens as some of the POVers who were in Annapolis for the 2015 bowl game can tell you it is a great experience especially if you can get some free time to tour The Naval Academy (please do- it is America at its finest) and only a four hour drive from Pittsburgh!! 

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I mean the overall experience was great. What wasn’t so good was the 417 yards Navy gained rushing to beat our asses 44-28. That was not all that lovely to watch but still – that whole experience was fun all around.