Miami at Pittsburgh score: No. 2 Canes stunned in upset ahead of ACC championship
The Hurricanes have been living on the edge all season
It's not even Saturday -- shoot, it's not even Friday night -- and chaos theory is already creeping into the college football scene. The last full weekend of the 2017 season may be in for a wild ride if No. 2 Miami's 24-14 loss to Pitt is any indication.
Before diving into all the details, let's be clear about one thing: this is example 1,058 of why going undefeated is so difficult. College football players are inconsistent by nature. They're not always on their best game, and sometimes they run into a team that plays up to the moment. That's what happened here. It's not the first time it's happened, and it won't be the last.
But with Miami being a highly ranked team to lose, thus ending the nation's longest winning streak at 15 games, here's what you need to know.
1. Let's address the big elephant in the room first. That would be Miami's playoff hopes. Are they done? You might experience some whiplash if you think so with certainty. There are still two whole weekends of football to be played. Plus, the benefit of the playoff era is that it affords most teams a mulligan. This is Miami's. However, the Hurricanes have absolutely taken their destiny out of their own hands. Hypothetically, would a one-loss ACC champion Miami team be left out of the final four? There are a couple of things to consider. Remember: Miami's strength of schedule is ranked 41st by Sagarin. That's currently ahead of Alabama, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Georgia. But there is obviously a level of uncertainty that wasn't there before given that this was a bad loss by double digits.
2. This is what Miami has been much of the year. The turnover chain is college football's best schtick, and for two weeks this month against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, it was easy to buy into the romance of Miami being "back." But the reality is the Hurricanes have played awfully close to the edge in a number of games. They needed a last-second touchdown to beat Florida State, a game-winning field goal to fend of Georgia Tech, a late score to put away Syracuse and a monster second half to pull away from Virginia. This might have been Miami's "bad game" -- and it was bad -- but this was not the first week the Canes have lived dangerously. That almost always comes back to haunt teams at some point.
3. This is what Pitt does. Memes are fake news, but by God there's something about Pitt against No. 2 teams late in the year that's meme-worthy. The Panthers, of course, knocked No. 2 West Virginia out of the BCS Championship race 10 years ago by beating the Mountaineers 13-9 in Morgantown. Pitt also stunned No. 2 Clemson last season 43-42 in mid-November. In reality, this game is closer to the one against Clemson as far as big-picture ramifications go. Comparing the magnitude of a loss in the BCS era vs. the College Football Playoff era are two different things. Either way, never schedule the Panthers late in the year if you can help it.
4. Kenny Pickett is the future at quarterback for Pitt: Beating Miami provides an immediate boost to an otherwise disappointing season. However, the long-term thing Panthers fans should really feel good about is Pickett. The freshman was solid in his first start with 193 yards on 18-of-29 passing with a touchdown, plus 60 yards rushing and another two touchdowns. He showed excellent poise and decision-making, plus provided some beautiful passes that should make this coaching staff excited about the future of the offense. It's been a revolving door at quarterback for Pitt over the course of the last few months, but Pickett should have an early lead on that race going into next season.
5. Malik Rosier, however, has questions to answer: Rosier was flat-out bad despite throwing for 187 yards and two scores. Coach Mark Richt briefly benched Rosier in the fourth quarter in favor of Evan Shirreffs, but that didn't work out. Over the last four games, Rosier has two games with multiple interceptions and three games in which his completion percentage was less than 55 percent. Rosier is obviously still the best option at quarterback, but throughout the season, he's battled inconsistencies. Richt, a quarterback's coach by nature, is going to have his work cut out for him with this project.
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