Both teams were considered contenders for their respective conferences, but after suffering having already suffered losses Miami and Pittsburgh are in need of a marquee win. Thursday night, only team will get one to boost its season-long resume.
The 19th-ranked Hurricanes may need this game more than Pitt. Miami had a nightmare performance 12 days ago against Ohio State, a game in which quarterback Jacory Harris threw 4 interceptions and the offense managed only 10 points. The Panthers have a much easier road up the ladder with only West Virginia having proved worthy during the early season of even sniffing the Top 25.
AccuScore forecasts this game to be extremely close with Pitt winning 51% of simulations. The homefield is significant in this game as simulations would have Miami winning more often on a neutral field. In tight games such as this, turnovers often play a crucial role in the outcome. Harris must protect the ball for Miami. When the Canes commit fewer turnovers than the Panthers (33% of simulations) they go on to win 63% of the time. Average projections have Harris throwing for 235 yards with a 1.36-1 TD-INT ratio.
They key for Pittsburgh will be getting sophomore running back Dion Lewis back on track. Lewis was superhuman as a freshman rushing for 1799 yards and a 5.5 ypc average. This season he has rushed for just 102 yards through 2 games including a paltry 2.7 ypc average last week against New Hampshire. AccuScore does project him to bounce back in a big way this week as he is forecasted for over 130 yards and a score. If he can indeed find the end zone (37% chance) Pitt is forecasted to win 66% of the time.
Last season AccuScore was 6-3 combined against the spread in non-conference games for Miami and Pitt. The over/under for this game is set at 50 points. AccuScore gives a 57% chance of going over. The average total score is projected to be 54.8 points, and AccuScore is 1-0 on totals for both teams in their games against FBS opponents.