Al Golden has taken a lot of heat at Miami going back to the end of last season. And when his team was blown out at Virginia last week, that noise was louder than ever.
Pitt didn't make any of it go away on Saturday night, as the Panthers went into Sun Life Stadium and dominated for much of the game to knock off the 6-6 Hurricanes by the score of 35-23.
After a long kickoff, Pittsburgh struck first when James Conner scored from 13 yards out. The talented sophomore running back, who entered the game with 1,600 yards, finished with 16 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns. He was bothered by a hip injury the entire game but still managed to find the end zone a couple times, which ended up breaking the ACC single-season record.
After a Michael Badgley 40-yard field goal cut Pitt's lead to 7-3, the Panthers struck again late in the first quarter when Chad Voytik found Tyler Boyd for a 12-yard touchdown strike. Voytik completed just 8-of-12 passes for 134 yards and that one score. Boyd, who did most of his damage in the return game, caught five of those eight passes for 72 yards and one score.
Brad Kaaya found Phillip Dorsett, who raced 51 yards for a touchdown, early in the second quarter to cut Pitt's lead to 14-10. Kaaya finished the game with 296 yards and two scores. Dorsett caught five passes for 103 yards and a score.
A second Conner touchdown was followed by a second Badgley field goal, which came from a career-high 48 yards out, to make the Panther lead 21-13 going into halftime.
As has been the case a lot lately, the Canes were outscored in the second half. A 17-yard touchdown reception by Duke Johnson cut Pitt's lead to 21-20 in the third quarter. Johnson was unable to score on the ground but he became the school's all-time leading rusher on the night. He finished with 89 yards rushing.
Chris James took advantage of the added opportunities because of Conner's injury. The freshman running back finished the game with 58 yards on 11 carries and his 17-yard touchdown run in the third quarter extended Pitt's lead to 28-20. Badgley added a third field goal late in the third quarter to cut their lead to 28-23.
Voytik added a one-yard touchdown run on 4th and goal early in the fourth quarter to give the Panthers a 35-23 lead. That was the last time either team scored.
Pitt became bowl eligible with the win while the Hurricanes dropped to 6-6 on the season. Dating back to last year's Florida State game, the Hurricanes are now just 7-10 in their last 17 games against FBS opponents.