Last week, Mark Richt and his team overcame an unprecedented losing streak that left Miami as an outsider for any relevant post-season competition. N’Kosi Perry established himself as the Hurricanes quarterback of the future and the offense found the groove that they had desperately needed. The Hurricanes dominated Virginia Tech in every facet of the game and came out with a 38-14 victory in one of the most hostile environments in all of college football.
Today, the Miami Hurricanes have a lot more on their plate. This game doesn't have conference significance because the Pittsburgh Panthers have clinched their spot in the ACC Championship game, but it almost feels like a must-win for Miami. Any average team or average program can go win a single game somewhere then conform to their old ways and lose to a “better” team at home.
And Pitt is technically the better team. More talented? No. But they are the Coastal Champions and should be favored in this game. They have won five of their last six games with a five-point loss to #3 Notre Dame being their only fault. In those five wins, the Panthers are averaging 329.8 rushing yards per game and averaging 41.4 points per game.
I’m going shoot you straight here. Miami is a better team than Pitt. The talent disparity is fairly large, even with the absence of Jeff Thomas. If the offense can be as efficient as they were a week ago against Virginia Tech, then I am not sure there is a team besides Clemson in this conference that can beat us. The four-game skid between Virginia and Georgia Tech was an all-time low for Mark Richt. A win against a nationally ranked team to finish off the regular season puts this program back on track.
It doesn't mean that they play in a huge bowl game or that we’re suddenly going to be a great team. What matters most right now is winning today and winning our bowl game.
Heading into the off-season on a three-game winning streak will give this team a new life heading into the off-season. Three wins to end the season means that we have a late season win over a ranked opponent, an established quarterback heading into 2019, and a relatively fixed offense. I’m not saying all our problems will be solved, but that is the best-case scenario right now.
Sending Off the Seniors
Listen, it is pretty simple. This senior class beat Florida State twice. Malik Rosier and Darrell Langham were essential in ending the drought at Florida State in 2017.
Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine have created a standard that safety that may not be replicated for a long time at the position and they have been cornerstones for this Miami defense for years. Both Johnson and Redwine deserve to be spoken about for generations to come.
Gerald Willis III has become one of the single most dominant defensive players in this generation of Miami Hurricanes. I am a relatively young Hurricanes fan so I cannot remember a time in my life watching a player with the motor and tenacity that Willis has.
Demetrius Jackson is one of the greatest humans that this city has seen. He constantly gives back to his community and has proven that he is much more than just an athlete.
Michael Jackson established himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the country last year and he decided, despite having a child to feed, to stay for one more year as a Miami Hurricane when anybody would have understood him going pro.
This senior class ended the bowl drought with a 31-14 victory over West Virginia in Orlando following the 2016 season. They were the glue of the program when Al Golden drove it into the ground and rose as leaders when Mark Richt took over. This senior class changed the direction of the program and accomplished a goal of leaving it much better than it was when they got there.