While this season has not gone the way the Hurricanes expected, they still have a lot to play for in Week 13 against Pittsburgh.
Miami has an opportunity to become bowl eligible with its sixth win of the year, a mark the 'Canes have eclipsed in their previous 14 seasons. While fifth-year senior tight end Will Mallory feels the future of the program is good, not making a bowl would be a setback.
Here are four matchups to watch out for between Miami and Pitt.
1. Miami's run game vs. Pittsburgh's front seven
The Hurricanes' rushing attack has been inconsistent this year, and that has been evident the past two weeks.
In Week 11 against Georgia Tech, Miami rumbled for 217 rushing yards, while in the following week against Clemson, it only rushed for 30 yards.
This weekend, the unit will be facing off against one of the nation's best rushing defenses in Pitt. The Panthers allow the eighth fewest rushing yards per game to opposing offenses.
2. Miami's interior offensive line vs. Calijah Kancey
The redshirt junior defensive lineman has been wreaking havoc on opposing offensive lines all season, and he is the main pass-rusher Miami has to slow down on Saturday.
Kancey played high school football at Miami (Fla.) Northwestern. He is a sound interior lineman who often lines up on the right side of Pitt's defensive line. This means he'll most likely face either UM offensive linemen Laurance Seymore or Jalen Rivers.
The 6-foot-0 defender leads Pitt with seven sacks this season. The Panthers rank third nationally in sacks per game.
3. DJ Ivey / Tyrique Stevenson vs. Jared Wayne
Wayne has been one of the most productive wide receivers in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) this year. He is fifth in the conference with 807 receiving yards.
The 6-foot-3 wideout will likely be matched up on the outside against either Stevenson or Ivey, who have been Miami's primary starting outside cornerbacks this season.
Wayne features a variety of smooth releases and is a very technical route runner. He excels at using leverage to get behind defenses. Pitt play-caller Frank Cignetti Jr. utilizes Wayne in the middle of the field on post routes.
4. Pitt's run game vs. Miami's front seven
Junior running back Israel Abanikanda has been the centerpiece of the Panthers' commanding rushing attack.
Abanikanda has scampered for 1,320 rushing yards this year, which leads the ACC.
The 5-foot-11 back shines between the tackles in the Panthers' run scheme, which features both gap and zone blocking principles. While he is not a super explosive runner, Abanikanda's consistency has been vital for a Pitt offense that has struggled to effectively pass the ball at times this season.
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