Pittsburgh – Miami’s perfect season is over. The Hurricanes can only hope their shot at a spot in the College Football Playoff isn’t gone, too.
Freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as Pittsburgh stunned the second-ranked Hurricanes 24-14 on Friday. Pickett bulled over from 6 yards in the first half, flipped a 5-yard shovel pass to Qadree Ollison in the third quarter to put the Panthers up 10 and gave Pitt (5-7, 3-5 ACC) all the cushion it would need with a 22-yard fourth-down sprint to the end zone with 2:54 remaining.
Pickett completed 18 of 29 passes for 193 yards and the one score while adding 60 yards rushing in his first career start as Pitt finished a disappointing season with a decisive stunner that could put a dent in the Hurricanes’ national title hopes.
Malik Rosier completed 15 of 34 for 187 yards and two scores but was ineffective for most of the day, even briefly getting replaced by backup Evan Schirreffs in the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes (10-1, 7-1 ACC) were held to a season-low 229 yards.
The Hurricanes stressed they’d learned their lesson after spotting Virginia a two-touchdown lead last week before recovering to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 15 games. Yet Miami walked onto the Heinz Field turf in a weird spot.
The ACC Coastal Division champions are well aware their meeting with No. 4 Clemson in the conference championship game next Saturday will serve as the ultimate arbiter on whether the Hurricanes are worthy of consideration for the College Football Playoff, making the visit to Pittsburgh possibly irrelevant regardless of the outcome if the Hurricanes beat the defending national champions in Charlotte.
Time to put the theory to the test.
“I still think there’s an awful lot to play for,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. “We have no idea what’s going to happen in the big picture, how many teams lost a game on a Friday and came back and got in the top four? How many teams lost one game and won a conference championship and got right back in it? Who knows? So we don’t know.”
Flat at the start and flatter at the finish, the swagger the Hurricanes have played with during their rebirth under Richt evaporated against the Panthers, who know a thing or two about pulling off the improbable.
A year ago, the Panthers handed Clemson its only loss of the season with a thrilling victory in Death Valley. A decade ago they stunned West Virginia in the regular season finale, a setback that cost the Mountaineers a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game.
Those two now have company, with head coach Pat Narduzzi saying as much during a brief sideline interview at the start of the second half. Then the Panthers went out and backed it up.
“I talked about the past and the big upset win at West Virginia,” Narduzzi said. “It happened in Clemson last year. I told the players it’s about time it happened in Pittsburgh.”
Pitt’s defense frustrated Rosier all afternoon, tipping passes at the line of scrimmage and creating pressure that forced him into the kind of mistakes he’s avoided for much of the season. Even when he had time, Rosier was sloppy, overthrowing open receivers.
“I guess I got complacent,” Rosier said. “I was just out there to be out there. I was going through my reads instead of dialing in and focusing in on every snap. After that it put this football game in perspective that at any moment I could get pulled. It hurts.”
The Panthers meanwhile, were in control all the way. Pitt took the lead for good when Pickett vaulted into the end zone with 35 seconds left in the first half. Pickett bulled over Miami cornerback Jaquon Johnson in the process, a sign Pitt was not going to be pushed around.
(At) No. 10 TCU 45, Baylor 22: Kenny Hill threw touchdown passes to three receivers and ran 3 yards for another score to help TCU wrap up a spot in the Big 12 championship game.
The Horned Frogs (10-2, 7-2 Big 12, CFP No. 12) will play No. 3 Oklahoma for the Big 12 title on Dec. 2. That will come three weeks after TCU’s 38-20 loss to the Sooners.
Baylor (1-11, 1-8) jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first 2 minutes, including a safety when Hill was sacked and fumbled in the end zone. But TCU was ahead for good after Hill’s 7-yard TD pass to Jarrison Stewart made it 14-9 with 26 seconds left in the first quarter.
Defensive end Mat Boesen set a TCU record with 5 1/2 of the Horned Frogs’ eight sacks.
Hill completed 26 of 36 passes for 325 yards, including TD passes to Desmon White and Jalen Reagor in the third quarter, a week after he didn’t even travel to Texas Tech because of an apparent concussion.
(At) No. 12 UCF 49, No. 19 South Florida 42: Mike Hughes returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown with 1:28 remaining and Central Florida completed the first unbeaten regular season in program history to wrap up the American Athletic Conference’s East Division title.
The Knights (11-0, 8-0, CFP No. 15) will host Memphis in the conference title game Dec. 2.
Hughes’ touchdown capped a crazy 53-second span where the Knights took an eight-point lead, South Florida tied it and then the Knights took the lead for good.
The Bulls (9-2, 6-2) tied it at 42 when Quinton Flowers connected with Darnel Salomon for an 83-yard touchdown strike, and then found D’Ernest Johnson for a 2-point play. Flowers finished with 605 yards of total offense. On the ensuing kickoff, Hughes found an opening on the right side and scored.
UCF’s McKenzie Milton was 29 of 44 for 373 yards and four touchdowns.
No. 24 Virginia Tech 10, (at) Virginia 0: Josh Jackson threw a touchdown pass and Virginia Tech beat Virginia for the 14th consecutive time.
The Hokies (9-3, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) limited the Cavaliers to 5 rushing yards and 191 overall in posting their third shutout of the season.
Virginia (6-6, 3-5) had two golden opportunities for touchdowns, but Juan Thornhill slipped after intercepting a pass with nothing but green grass in front of him, and speedy wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus caught a slant pattern that looked like it might go 89 yards, but he was caught from behind by Deon Newsome after just 28.
As expected, the game was a defensive struggle, but the Hokies made enough plays to remain unbeaten against Virginia since joining the ACC in 2004.
Brian Johnson, subbing for Virginia Tech’s career field goal record-holder Joey Slye, kicked a 30-yard field goal early in the second quarter. Jackson later converted a lost fumble by Virginia’s Chris Sharp on the second play of the second half into points, driving 40 yards in four plays and hitting Chris Cunningham from 8 yards out.
Iowa 56, (at) Nebraska 14: Akrum Wadley ran for 159 yards and three touchdowns and Iowa scored 28 points in less than a 7-minute span over the halves in what might have been coach Mike Riley’s last game with the Cornhuskers.
Tight end Noah Fant returned to his home state and caught three passes for a career-high 116 yards and two touchdowns, and Iowa (7-5, 4-5 Big Ten) won for the first time in three games since its upset of Ohio State on Nov. 4.
The Huskers (4-8, 3-6) lost four straight to end the season, finished with their fewest wins since 1961 and lost five home games for the first time since 1957. Riley is 19-19 in three seasons, with last year’s loss at Iowa starting a 10-losses-in-14-games slide. The Huskers have dropped 12 of 18 since opening last season 7-0 and ranked No. 7.
Iowa scored in the final minute of the first half to tie it 14-all on Nate Stanley’s 4-yard pass to Fant, who grew up 50 miles away in Omaha, and the Hawkeyes struck for three quick touchdowns in the third quarter to take control.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette returned the second-half kickoff 74 yards, and would have had a touchdown if it hadn’t been for an illegal block in the back. Five plays later Wadley ran in from a yard.
After Nebraska went three-and-out, Stanley connected with Fant for 44 yards and James Butler ran for 12 to put the Hawkeyes up 28-14.
Tanner Lee threw his 14th interception of the season on Nebraska’s next possession, and Wadley went 29 yards to score his third touchdown and become the fourth Iowa player to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
It was 42-14 entering the fourth quarter after Fant went 68 yards on a catch-and-run touchdown.
Nebraska’s Stanley Morgan Jr. set the school’s single-season receiving record on his 28-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. He ended the season with 986 yards.