The Panthers wrap up their season at 5-7, but Pickett should be able to turn that around in 2018 and beyond.
The Panthers put together a pair of long touchdown drives engineered by Pickett and the emphatic response from Miami never materialized. Quarterback Malik Rosier struggled to move the ball, missing a number of downfield throws, and the Hurricanes looked tentative at times.
Rosier had led the team to its 10-0 start, but had amassed only seven points through the third quarter Friday and was eventually pulled in the fourth.
Miami almost blew it last Saturday, showing signs of a letdown against Virginia after the highs of back-to-back triumphs over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, but the Hurricanes pulled it together with 30 unanswered points in the second half to defeat the Cavaliers 44-28 and run their winning streak to 15 in a row. Pitt only loses eight seniors on the two-deep chart and the aggressive, dominant defense coach Pat Narduzzi promised when he was hired three years ago may be coming around.
Pitt has had a disappointing 2017 with a 4-7 record coming into its matchup.
In addition to his rushing touchdown at the end of the second quarter that gave Pitt the lead for good, Pickett had the dagger with 2:54 left in the fourth quarter with a 22-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-6. The Hurricanes finished with a season-low 229 yards.
"You don't think your first start is going to come against the No. 2 team in the country and you upset them at home". Everyone else had no clue. "I was just out there to be out there, and I was kind of like going through my reads instead of dialing in and focusing every snap".
A year ago, the Panthers handed Clemson its only loss of the season with a thrilling victory in Death Valley.
No. 2 Miami traveled to face Pittsburgh in the last regular season game of the season. Then the Panthers went out and backed it up. "A lesson was definitely learned", said Hurricanes linebacker Shaquille Quarterman after the hard-fought win over Virginia. The rally came too late against Pitt, and the Canes' worst fear all season finally happened. "I told the players it's about time it happened in Pittsburgh".
But after a nightmarish afternoon in Pittsburgh on Friday, the Hurricanes won't have an undefeated regular season and their dreams of playing for a national championship are in serious jeopardy.
Pitt: Will open the 2018 season at home against Albany on September 1.