Miami football success versus greatly improved Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett

The Miami football program has had success against Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett in his three starts against the Hurricanes from 2017-2019. Pickett made his first start against Miami in the 2017 regular-season finale. The 5-6 Panthers upset 10-0 second-ranked Miami ending their dreams of a College Football Playoff berth.

Pickett was 18-29 for 193 yards and one touchdown and ran 13 times for 60 yards and two TDs. Pittsburgh was conservative offensively with 45 rushing attempts to the 29 passes Pickett threw. The Panthers’ defense held Miami to 232 total yards. Pittsburgh upset the Miami football team 24-14 at Heinz Field.

That was the last time Miami lost to Pittsburgh. The Panthers’ 2017 victory over the Hurricanes was their only one in the series in the last six seasons. The Miami football team has defeated Pittsburgh for the last three years and also won in 2015 and 2016. Pickett missed the 2020 game against Miami with an ankle injury.

In 2018 Miami defeated ACC Coastal Division Champion Pittsburgh 24-3 at Hard Rock Stadium. Pickett was 14-22 for 130 yards, no TDs and no interceptions with nine carries for a loss of 34 yards. The Miami defense held Pittsburgh to 200 total yards and got after the Panthers offense for 14 tackles for loss and six sacks.

Kenny Pickett Career Game Logs versus Miami Table/Career totals at bottom
PassPassPassPassPassPassPassRushRushRushRush
RkYearDateSchoolOpponent
CmpAttPctYdsTDIntRateAttYdsAvgTD
2020192019-10-26PittsburghMiami (FL)L183256.31460282.19212.30
2120182018-11-24Pittsburgh@Miami (FL)L142263.613000113.39-34-3.80
2220172017-11-24PittsburghMiami (FL)W182962.119310129.413604.62
46 Games vs.Everyone879142161.9102206226133.03757552.018
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 10/28/2021.

 

Miami had only five TFLs and one sack in their 2017 loss to the Panthers. In 2019, Pickett was 25-34 for 204 yards, one TD, two interceptions and ran six times for eight yards. Miami had seven tackles for loss and four sacks in a 16-12 victory. Former Miami defensive end Greg Rousseau had his breakout game with three sacks.

That was the first of a two-game stretch that Rousseau finished with seven sacks against Pittsburgh and Florida State. Miami overcame 208 yards of total offense as the defense held Pittsburgh to 322 yards. One key for Miami the last two seasons defeating Pittsburgh have been its red zone defense.

Pittsburgh had to settle for field goals in all three of its red zone trips in 2019 with Pickett at QB against Miami. In 2018, Pittsburgh had a field goal in their sole red zone trip with Pickett at QB against Miami in a 24-3 loss. Without Pickett in 2020, Pittsburgh scored four field goals and one TD in five red-zone trips.

The Panthers’ only TD came after an interception return to the one-yard line. A huge key for Miami to upset Pittsburgh on Saturday will be its red zone defense. Pittsburgh 56th nationally converting 86.49 percent of its trips to scores in the red zone in 2021. Pittsburgh is ninth with a 75.68 percent red-zone TD percentage.

Miami has held Pittsburgh to an incredible one TD in nine red-zone trips the last three seasons. Clemson is first nationally this season allowing opponents to score on only 25 percent of their red zone attempts. The outcome of the game on Saturday will depend on how well Miami defends Pickett.