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Pitt Shocks Canes In Finale

This Pickett’s charge was more successful than the last one in 1863.
Photo by Keith Srakocic

The Pittsburgh Panthers ended their season by shaking up the college football playoff picture with a massive upset of the previously-ranked #2 Miami Hurricanes. The Panthers won 24-14 on Friday afternoon at Heinz Field, most likely ruining the dreams of the resurgent Miami program to reach the National Championship.

For the second straight season, the Panthers pulled off an upset over the nation’s second ranked team in the month of November, with a team nowhere near as talented as the one that beat Clemson 36-35 in 2016. The Panthers were led by the play of freshman QB Kenny Pickett who went 18 for 23 with 253 total yards and accounted for all three touchdowns for Pitt. Pitt was also led by a defense that allowed 212 total yards and 14 points. The Panthers definitely treated this game like their bowl game and came out with their intensity and desire to spoil the hopes of their former Big East and current ACC rival.

Here are some takeaways and observations form Friday’s season ending victory.

Panthers Offense

Pickett was undoubtedly the star of today’s game with his ability to make plays with his arm and his legs. He also displayed his moxie and ability to take control of the offense, especially in critical situations (third downs, at the end of the half, and the four minute offense). On their first touchdown drive, the Panthers went 12 plays and 75 yards, culminating in an amazing 6 yard scramble by Pickett which looked like the John Elway helicopter run in the Super Bowl 20 years ago. On their final scoring drive in the fourth quarter, Pickett led a 12 play, 90 yard drive that ended on a 22 yard run by Pickett that took 6 minutes and 48 yards off the clock. The Panther went 9 for 17 on third down conversions and the infamous “Turnover Chain” only arrived twice on Friday.

Panthers Defense

The Panthers defense gave their best performance of the season on Friday. The Panthers only gave up 212 total yards, including 41 rushing yards. Malik Rosier was only 15 for 34 for 124 yards and a touchdown. Rosier was benched briefly in the fourth quarter in favor of Evan Shirreffs, but returned to the game to throw a late touchdown to Braxton Berrios to make the score 24-14. The Panthers held Miami to 4 for 17 on third down and sacked Rosier four times on Friday. Avonte Maddox was the star of the game with two sacks and two passes defensed, including the sack that forced the fumble to seal the upset.


The Panthers only lose eight seniors from their two-deep depth chart for 2018, and they seem to have found their quarterback of the future in Pickett. The key is growth in the offensive personnel and the familiarity in offensive coordinator Shawn Watson’s system. The defense seemed to play better as the season went along and will benefit from another year of growing as well.

Up Next

The Panthers will open the 2018 season at Heinz Field against Albany on Sept 1.

Brandon is a Steelers and Pitt Panthers contributor to the Point of Pittsburgh. He can be reached at @bwalkerdadon on Twitter.

6 Comments on Pitt Shocks Canes In Finale

  1. mark delsignore // November 25, 2017 at 7:49 AM //

    Pitt played a wonderful bowl game Friday. Could not have ended the season any better for sure. Miami surely did not look even close to the #2 team however when you are the #2 team in the country (or top 10 for that matter) you gotta come to a Pitt and blow their doors off. They (Miami) looked very uninterested save for a few drives in the 2nd quarter.

    But take nothing away from Pitt as they played very aggressively with nothing to lose.

    Hail to Pitt!

  2. In the Miami game, it seemed like most of Pitt ?s problems this season were solved. Pickett emerged as a competent, poised QB. The defense played well. And athletically the Panthers did not appear to be outclassed by Miami. Play calling was good. Pitt fans have reason to be hopeful for next season.

    • mark delsignore // November 25, 2017 at 11:11 AM //

      Not taking anything away from Pitt yesterday


      It also helped that Miami did not look nor play like the #2 team in the country

      Before we start celebrating next year, I would like to see Pitt, especially its defense, play with much more consistency against the “lesser” foes.

  3. Great win by Pitt yesterday! How about Coach Duzz predicting the upset at halftime?

    Miami’s national championship hopes have been damaged but I don’t think they are crushed. If they beat Clemson next week they have a good chance to make the playoff depending on what the other contenders do.

  4. Finally, the play calling on both sides of the ball was to play aggressively to win, not to not lose. Sure it helped to play loose because they didn’t have anything to lose, but I hope Narduzzi remembers this.

  5. Bob Stover // November 28, 2017 at 4:15 PM //

    The gloom and doom talk surrounding Pitt football from last week was way over the top and way too pessimistic. One game against a very good opponent like Miami makes it clear that college football is not static with permanent haves and have-nots. Coupled with Auburn’s win over Bama on Saturday, you could well be looking at a National Championship for Oklahoma, Auburn, Georgia or Wisconsin come January 10th. When was the last time that any of those teams won a National Championship?

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