Miami shocked the ACC Saturday as a double-digit underdog at 17th-ranked Pittsburgh, beating the ACC Coastal-leading Panthers, 38-34. The Panthers were coming off a win against Clemson and had New Year’s Six hopes before suffering a surprising letdown to the Hurricanes, who beat N.C. State last week after appearing dead in the water at the season’s halfway mark.
Both of these wins for the Hurricanes come after coach Manny Diaz rose to the front of the hot-seat pack and now it appears he’s helping his cause to stay employed. Miami athletic director Blake James spoke to ESPN’s Andrea Adelson in an interview earlier this month and was asked point-blank if Diaz was on the hot seat.
“I don’t know how you define hot seat,” James said. “Every one of my coaches is evaluated by how they do and how their teams do. Obviously, this is a disappointing season. We’re six games in, and we have six games left. Our focus is on doing everything we can to win our next six games.”
Here’s some of the reaction following Miami’s win on the road against Pittsburgh:
Terrible angles and approach from pitt on these wide passes from Miami. The blocking isn’t that good. They’re just not working together it is a lot of every man for himself approaching
— Michael Felder (@InTheBleachers) October 30, 2021
Miami led by two touchdowns and scored 31 points in the first half, the most points the division-leading Panthers had given up in a half this season. The Hurricanes held on to hand Pittsburgh its first ACC loss of the season, which eradicates any shot at a College Football Playoff berth as potential ACC champions for Pat Narduzzi’s team.
Miami all over Pitt. Canes already have 205 yards of offense in half a quarter. FR Tyler Van Dyke (6-for-6, 176 yards) is sizzling and upstaging Kenny Pickett so far. 21-7
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) October 30, 2021
The ugly start for the Panthers included Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke taking the top off the defense several times, including twice for long touchdown passes. Van Dyke finished with 428 yards passing and three touchdowns to lead the Hurricanes.
Today’s Miami-Pitt game is the first FBS game this season where both quarterbacks topped 250 yards passing in the first half.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) October 30, 2021
No defense was played early in Saturday’s game before both sides finally stopped exchanging blows after intermission. Miami took the lead at 38-31 in the third quarter and didn’t have to score again to beat the Panthers.
Pitt losing to Miami will just not be that big a deal. They already lost to Western Michigan! They are not catching a Playoff invite. Just win the ACC and it’s all cool. A team like Miami is just a waypoint on the voyage to facing the final boss that is Wake Forest
— Alex Kirshner (@alex_kirshner) October 30, 2021
Not a big deal? It’s a huge deal for the Hurricanes, who are back in the bowl picture with the win and may have salvaged Diaz’s job.
Manny Diaz doing everything thing he can to save his job keeping Miami football mediocre in the process.
It’s actually a win for every program in the state
— Todd Fuhrman (@ToddFuhrman) October 30, 2021
This was not only a big win for Diaz, but the state of Florida — in flames this season in the Power Five and Group of Five ranks — notches a victory over a nationally-ranked opponent.
There are not 5 better candidates for the Heisman this season than Kenny Pickett to this point if you are being 100% fair. No way. https://t.co/qnrOwKXrGE
— Mike J. Asti (@MikeAsti11) October 30, 2021
— 247Sports (@247Sports) October 30, 2021
No Heisman winner has lost to Miami and Western Michigan in the same season, regardless of Pickett’s fat numbers this fall.
“It’s too hard to look into the future,” Miami’s athletic director Blake James told ESPN earlier this month. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, again. I think everyone’s constantly being evaluated, and you make the decisions that you feel are best for the program.”
Miami had high expectations coming into this season with quarterback D’Eriq King returning from an ACL injury. The Hurricanes were expected to push for a Coastal Division title, but things had not gone their way, at least early this season prior to wins over N.C. State and Pittsburgh.
“I think Manny has done the things he needs to do to put things in place for Miami to win again, but you look at our last two games,” James said. “Two plays go a different way, we’re sitting at 2-0 in the Coastal. With that said, the reality is you’ve got to find ways to win those games, and we’re not winning those games. That’s what Manny is working on, getting us to that point. Obviously, we haven’t had the success that we want to have as a program, that our fan base expects us to have.”