Miami, Florida – It all comes down to this, for Week 13 the Miami Hurricanes will have to defeat the Pittsburgh Panthers in order to be bowl eligible. UM’s previous game went as expected. With the loss to Clemson in the rearview mirror, the focus is now on Pitt. The season finale at the Hardrock still retains importance but for completely different reasons. Instead of the preseason projection of battling it out to determine the ACC Coastal, the Hurricanes are hoping to break even.
Tied for second place with Duke at 7-4 (4-3, ACC), the Panthers held off the Blue Devils 28-26. They’re on a three-game winning streak. The fifth-best within the ACC in terms of yards per game on the ground (175.2), Pittsburgh’s offense averages roughly 30 points a game. Their defense is also stingy giving up the second-fewest yards (313.7) in the conference. They are excellent against the rush holding opponents to an average of 94.5 yards a game. They are third in the nation in sacks.
4️⃣ @ACCFootball Players of the Week
Defense. @Sirvocea @BrandonHill_6
Special Teams. @BSauls22
Total team effort in the win over Duke.#H2P » #WeNotMe pic.twitter.com/72SBwNylD8
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) November 23, 2022
Zeroing in on the playmakers, the conference’s best running back is Israel Abanikanda. The junior from Brooklyn, New York is firmly ahead of the pack recording not only the 11th most yards in the country (1,320). Abanikanda is also tied for second with 18 rushing TDs. Another top performer is wide receiver Jared Wayne who leads the program in receiving yards. Then there’s leading tackler SirVocea Dennis and defensive anchor Calijah Kancey complementing a formidable front. Since this is Senior Day, the Hurricanes section will be focused on the guys who are taking the field one last time potentially wrapping up their college careers. According to the bookies, the Miami Hurricanes are underdogs versus the Pittsburgh Panthers (-6.5 points).
Israel Abanikanda (RB) – Remember about a week ago when I mentioned that the Hurricanes were going to face the best running back in the ACC? Oh yeah, it’s this guy. Hitting the centennial mark and then some in eight games for 2022, Abanikanda carried the ball 17 times for 113 yards against Duke with a TD thrown in. His best game of the season was hands down versus Virginia Tech generating 320 yards and six touchdowns.
Running Back Israel Abanikanda leads the nation with 19 Touchdowns this season
Izzy was named as the ACC Running Back of the Week for the 4th time this season pic.twitter.com/oGeWiE0mya
— WWCP FOX 8 (@MYFOX8TV) November 22, 2022
Jared Wayne (WR) – The undisputed number-one wideout on campus. Jared Wayne caught four passes for 93 yards and a TD last game. He’s been averaging over 15 yards a catch lately defining the senior as nothing less than an explosive athlete. Coupled with quarterback Kedon Slovis, this dynamic duo has the potential to really ruin Miami’s chances.
Outstanding drive to cap the half 👏
Drive: 10 plays, 73 yards, 2:48
📺 @ACCNetwork #H2P » #WeNotMe pic.twitter.com/upEWAZBawb
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) November 19, 2022
SirVocea Dennis (LB) – Leading the team with 85 tackles, the senior has six sacks and two forced fumbles on the year. SirVocea Dennis was front and center on defense recording 14 tackles, six of them solo for Week 12. An aggressive athlete, Dennis uses both speed and power to penetrate into the backfield honing in on the ball carrier. Capable of covering a lot of ground quickly, the Syracuse native can also roll off attempted blocks and change his trajectory to make the hits.
🚨 PITT PICK SIX 🚨
SIRVOCEA DENNIS TO THE HOUUUUSE 🚀
— 247Sports (@247Sports) October 23, 2021
Calijah Kancey (DL) – The junior from right here in Miami has a team-best seven sacks for 2022, totaling 31 tackles 18 of them solo. Calijah Kancey is part of a fierce front that is very physical and able to mix it up with opposing blockers. Scouted as flexible, he can slip away from blocks and has easily proven he can make plays behind the line of scrimmage against the run and the pass. The O-Line might have its hands full this weekend.
Calijah Kancey 🎱
Pitt's first Nagurski finalist since…
You guessed it. Aaron Donald.@CKancey8 🤝 @AaronDonald97 #H2P 🏆 @NagurskiTrophy pic.twitter.com/jlyc3YS5z9
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) November 16, 2022
Will Mallory (TE) – In his fifth year at Miami, Will Mallory has recorded 33 catches for 435 yards and two TDs. His numbers are certainly an improvement from previous seasons. In fact, stats wise Mallory set new career highs for receptions and total yards. His best game of the season was versus UNC. We might see one last burst before the tight end proverbially rides off into the sunset.
D'Eriq King ➡️ Will Mallory
Hurricanes get in the endzone first 🌪️ pic.twitter.com/WEc0UEvpIc
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 20, 2020
DJ Scaife (OL) – Tasked with opening up lanes and protecting the QB, Miami’s offensive line has battled injuries this year. Now the group faces a unit that as previously mentioned is third in the country with 38 sacks. By the way, Miami has 37. DJ Scaife played at different positions within the trenches with a team-first mentality and will see this game, same as the others, as a last hurrah. What better way to do so than against the Panthers?
Senior DJ Scaife on Miami’s game on Saturday:
“It’s gonna be pretty emotional coming out this Saturday … knowing it’ll be my last one at Hard Rock.”
— Luke Chaney (@luke_chaney4) November 22, 2022
Lou Hedley (P) – This is a position many wouldn’t deem as sexy or flashy. With that said, Lou Hedley has been one of the few bright spots on this entire Canes football team. Hedley has been crucial with his punting abilities tallying 43 this season. His longest was 61 yards with over half his punts (53.49%) inside the 20. Everybody knows how important field position is. Hedley has been consistent in giving an edge to the defense on opposing drives. Going to miss this guy.
Lou Hedley has been named one of 10 Ray Guy Award semifinalists for the third time.
More about @LouHedleyy and the award honoring the nation's top punter: https://t.co/8TEDNBDUx7 pic.twitter.com/FyL2XJ47lA
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) November 21, 2022
DJ Ivey (CB) – Hailing from Florida City and batting cleanup, this might be the last time we see DJ Ivey in a Hurricanes uniform. Accumulating 37 tackles, 28 of them solo, Ivey also has two forced fumbles and a pair of interceptions. One of those INTs occurred last weekend against Clemson at a time when Miami was still fighting back. In addition to this, he has five passes defended. It may not seem like it but Ivey improved his numbers from last year. Not only that, he topped previous seasons in some areas for 2022.
DJ Ivey is keeping it real with all future Miami Hurricanes. 🗣
The 305 native is getting set for his last home game as a Cane.https://t.co/rNxDkr8F2L pic.twitter.com/LbD9MSrAJv
— CanesCounty.com (@canes_county) November 22, 2022
It’s the last contest of the season and the team really wants this win. In some ways, they need this win. Coach Mario Cristobal wants to end his first year as head coach on a high note. They’re fighting for the right to a bowl game, after all. This goes double for the seniors. Since the finale is at home, the Miami Hurricanes should conjure up some football magic edging out the Pittsburgh Panthers 24-21.
Photo by Edwin Garcia
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