This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features former Big East rivals the University of Miami Hurricanes taking on the University of Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
Head coach Randy Shannon is looking to rebound his Hurricanes against his former boss Dave Wannstedt after being thrashed by the Ohio State Buckeyes 36-24. Wannstedt was Miami’s defensive coordinator from 1986-88 when Shannon was a starting linebacker for a Hurricanes team that won the 1987 national championship. Wannstedt later drafted Shannon while he was a coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys, then hired him as his linebackers coach in 2000 with the Miami Dolphins.
Junior quarterback Jacory Harris, 22-39 for 232 yards one touchdown 4 INTs, had probably his worst game of his college career has his 4 interceptions proved very costly and was a far cry from his 3 touchdown no interception performance against Florida A&M in the opener. Senior running back Damien Berry, 94 yards, was the one real bright spot in the loss to the Buckeyes as he racked up major yardage against a tough defense. Senior wide receiver Leonard Hankerson is another player to keep an eye out for as he is clearly Harris favorite target with 13 receptions and 205 yards.
Shannon’s defense wasn’t bad against the Buckeyes they just where put in bad spots by the offense in ability to produce. Ohio State gained 181 yards on the ground but was only really able to turn out 3.7 ypc. Junior linebacker Sean Spence lead the defense with 8.5 tackles, including two for a loss.
Wannstedt’s Panthers have their own problems, from off-the-field suspensions of freshman running back Jason Douglas and sophomore offensive lineman Keith Coleman to losing the Big East’s co-defensive player of the year last year senior defensive end Greg Romeus to injury.
The Panthers do have sophomore tailback Dion Lewis who has been held to just 102 yards in two games so far this season. Lewis was even held to a career low 27 yards against Division II against New Hampshire. Sophomore backup running back Ray Graham stepped up though and put up 115 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 9 carries in the same game. Sophomore quarterback Tino Sunseri, 40-62 for 459 yards 3 touchdowns 2 INTs, has been very impressive in his first year starting. Sunseri will depend on the running game heavily but when he has to go to the air he has a true threat in junior wide receiver Jon Baldwin, 171 yards 2 touchdowns.
The Panthers defense failed to register a single sack in the opener versus Utah, but came up with 6 against New Hampshire but will be going against Miami without Romeus. Junior defensive tackle Chas Alecxih had a career day in the last game with 3 sacks.
The Hurricanes own a 21-9-1 lead in the rivalry and they have won the last six encounters, including a 28-14 triumph in 2003. Pittsburgh is 1-10 against ranked non-conference opponents since 1996.
PICK: University of Miami Hurricanes