While this week has been labeled as “Rivalry Week” with huge games like Michigan vs Ohio State and Auburn vs Alabama, I have decided to coin this game as something else. The “ACC Disappointments” week as both Miami and Pittsburgh had high hopes to win their division but have drastically played below expectations. Can Miami secure a bowl berth in the last week of the season? Let’s find out.
Pittsburgh Vs. Miami Odds
Oddsmakers tend to not think so as Miami opened as a +6.5 underdog with the number staying firm there. Reminder, this is a team that got steamrolled by Middle Tennessee and has looked defeated ever since. Will they be motivated to secure a bowl? Or will they just want to pack it in and get to next season?
As for the total, it’s expected to be a low scoring affair as the total opened at 44 and has dipped to 43.5 in some shops. Miami’s offense has been as anemic as possible while Pitt brings in a slow style of play themselves, backing their success on the shoulders of the defense.
Pittsburgh Vs. Miami Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Under 44
While I will most likely sprinkle some Miami +7 should that number appear pregame, I just can’t help but think we are in for a defensive slugfest. Especially with eachothers offensive identities revolving around zero explosiveness and relying on small, sustained success down the field instead. That success will be hard to come by as both defenses excel in limiting standard drives.
Both defenses actually nearly dwarf the offense in the key factors with both defenses having advantages in Finishing Drives, Success Rate, and Havoc. This spells early outs and field flipping positions with stalled out drives past the 40 resulting in either fg’s or failed conversions.
As previously mentioned, Pittsburgh will play a key factor in this under cashing at the window as their offensive identity benefits us. While bringing in Kedon Slovis to man the helm under center, Pittsburgh kept their identity of running the ball down opposing defenses throats. With an above average rush rate, we will need Pitt to bleed every second of the clock we can get.
Especially coupled with battling Miami’s defensive Havoc who are more than capable of limiting the big gain and sacrificing small gains at a time.
Pittsburgh Vs. Miami Key Matchups
Can Miami limit stud running back Israel Abanikanda? How will Miami’s platoon of quarterbacks find success against the Pitt secondary?
Israel Abanikanda vs Miami rush defense
While having the defensive identity to stop the run is one thing, doing it on the field is another and that’s what Miami will need to do to get the bowl berth. The rush defense will be tested as Pittsburgh running back Israel Abanikanda is a stud.
He has been the shining star for the Pitt offense, putting the team on his shoulders in the midst of an insane season. So far he has rushed for 1,320 yards and 18 touchdowns. He had a lackluster performance to his own standards in their last game out with “only” 113 yards and one touchdown.
As for how much Pitt will play him as they near the end of the season with nothing more to play for other than their bowl game will be worth monitoring. Should he struggle early they may pull him as Miami brings in a 44th ranked Def Rush Success rank and 51st in Def Rush Explosiveness.
Jacurri Brown vs Pittsburgh secondary
While we can expect to see the usual suspects out on offense for Pittsburgh with Kedon Slovis and Israel in the backfield, Miami’s offense will be taking on a new identity as backup quarterback Jacurri Brown is expected to get more playing time as he is potentially Miami’s future quarterback.
He is in for a tall task as the Miami pass attack has been a roller coaster of success. They lack explosiveness while rating around average in the nation in Success Rate. They take on an identity of short gains to let their playmakers do work in the open field while relying more on the run.
Brown will be hard pressed to find success again as he struggled against Clemson last week. Pitt brings in arguably just as good a pass defense as the Tigers as they rank top-30 in Def Pass Success while also constantly generating pressure in the backfield with their top ranked Def Havoc.
Take the under at no lower than 42 in what will be a defensive slugfest revolving in limiting the success on the ground.