For Pitt, it’s bowl season. For Miami, it’s next season.
Kedon Slovis threw three touchdown passes, all to Jared Wayne, and Israel Abanikanda ran for two touchdowns as Pittsburgh beat Miami 42-16 on Saturday night to knock the Hurricanes out of bowl contention.
“It’s still not a perfect game, but it’s a glimpse of what I can do,” said Wayne, who had a career-high 11 receptions, 199 yards and three touchdowns.
Miami (5-7, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) matched its worst season in 45 years.
“Setting a standard means laying the foundation,” said Hurricanes coach Mario Cristóbal, whose first season at his alma mater saw Miami lose more games (seven) than during his five years as a player there (five). “Sometimes it is very painful. And that’s where we are…we’re not there right now and we certainly have work to do.”
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Abanikanda now has 20 touchdown carries this season and finished with 111 rushing yards, his sixth straight 100-yard game for the Panthers (8-4, 5-3). Wayne had first-half touchdown receptions for 26 and 66 yards as Pitt took a 28-0 lead until halftime, then hauled in a 7-yard pass late in the third.
It was Pitt’s biggest win over Miami; the previous one was a 17-point victory in 1976, a year the Panthers won the national title.
“A great way to end the regular season,” Wayne said.
Jake Garcia threw two touchdown passes for Miami; Xavier Restrepo caught one, and tight end Will Mallory also caught one in his last game for the Hurricanes.
Pitt beat Miami for just the fourth time in the teams’ last 26 meetings, also going 0-for-4 in November for the second straight season. It also grabbed a small piece of history: the contest was the last Coastal Division game to be played, and the ACC dropped the two-division format beginning the next season.
It was also the 61st win for Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi, giving him outright possession of second place on the Panthers all-time list. He was tied with Pop Warner.
“It’s a November to remember,” Narduzzi said. “We have a good soccer team. They have a good soccer team. It’s good to beat Miami. … We’ve been close the last two years, but this was important to us.”
For Miami, it was a terrible end to a terrible season.
The Hurricanes used three quarterbacks on Saturday, which was fitting since they had a revolving door at that position all season. Starter Tyler Van Dyke returned for the season opener, but aggravated a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for much of the second half of the season. Jacurri Brown left in the third quarter after getting hurt, and Garcia played the rest of the way.
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It was a season that started with so much promise; Miami was the preseason selection to win the Coastal and started at No. 16 in the AP Top 25. But the Hurricanes have lost their last five home games, making this the first season that has happened to Miami since 1963.
Van Dyke finished the season 160 of 253 passing for 1,835 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. He entered the season that was supposed to be someone who would enter the 2023 NFL draft, and Miami has already seen at least six players publicly announce plans to enter the transfer portal, with more odds on the way.
“The portal is a two-way street,” Cristóbal said. “Not everyone is being asked to come back.”
THE TO TAKE
Pitt: Abanikanda has as many as 1,431 rushing yards this season, the eighth-most by any Pitt running back in a single season. He’ll need 58 yards in the bowl game to pass LeSean McCoy for the No. 7 spot on that list. … Pitt fumbled seven times, but missed just once.
Miami: The Hurricanes announced a crowd of 46,428. In reality, it may have been about half of that, and most of those people were gone by the end. Miami’s average announced attendance this season was 45,711. Excluding the last two seasons, affected by the pandemic, it was Miami’s lowest average participation since 2007.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Pitt: Waiting for the invitation to the bowling alley.
Miami: Opens the next season on September 2, at home against Miami of Ohio.
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