Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 21, 2018 at 1:18 am.

Miami looking for ‘payback’ vs. Pitt

Miami has a bowl bid coming and Pittsburgh has the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division wrapped up, so little in the way of tangible rewards will be awaiting the winner when the two meet Saturday.

But that doesn’t mean the Hurricanes (6-5, 3-4 ACC) will have nothing to play for in their final home game.

There is a little matter of payback for last year when the Hurricanes went to Pittsburgh as division champions with an unblemished, 10-0 record, and a Pitt team that didn’t even qualify for the postseason hung a 24-14 defeat on them.

“They took it to us,” Miami coach Mark Richt said.

That loss didn’t cost the Hurricanes anything as far as their division title, but, Richt said, it did take away some momentum for the Hurricanes as they prepared for the following week’s ACC Championship Game against Clemson.

A year later and the situation is virtually reversed. Pitt has clinched the division title and title game berth against Clemson while Miami is looking to play spoiler after snapping a losing streak at four games with a win at Virginia Tech last week.

One difference is that Miami already has clinched bowl eligibility. The Panthers went nowhere after their win over the Hurricanes last year.

“All the credit goes to them and how they rallied played with some spirit and got the job done,” Richt said. “We’d like to be able to do that as well.”

Richt also recognizes the value of wins in their final two games in giving the Hurricanes the opportunity to finish 2018 and go into 2019 riding a three-game winning streak, much like they used a five-game winning streak at the end of 2016 as a springboard into a 10-0 start to the 2017 season.

“We can still finish with two victories, obviously,” Richt said. “We’ve got to try to get one first, but yeah, that feels a lot better than getting these last two. But let’s worry about Pitt now.”