Second-ranked Penn State couldn't do it. Third-ranked Virginia Tech couldn't do it. No. 22 Miami did it, and very easily.
Kenny Kelly ran for a touchdown and threw for one and the Hurricanes pulled away with a 23-point fourth quarter in a 33-3 victory Saturday over Pittsburgh.
The Hurricanes (5-3, 3-0 Big East) rallied from deficits of 28 points and 13 points to win the previous two weeks, but another comeback wasn't needed after Kelly's 1-yard sneak put them ahead 10-3 in the second quarter.
"We were tired of coming into games and starting slowly," said middle linebacker Nate Webster, who made two interceptions. "We came in and started fast. We didn't come out soft."
"That really threw us off and really broke us from our rhythm," running back Nick Goings said of an offense that has rushed for 60 yards in its last two games.
Pitt coach Walt Harris said, "Any time you lose a player who is producing like David Priestley is, you're going to take a few steps back as a team."
Each of Pitt's three quarterbacks threw an interception, and Antonio Bryant, who had 216 yards receiving against Virginia Tech, was held to two catches for 20 yards. Latef Grim, the Big East receiving leader, had seven receptions for 85 yards and was the Panthers' only productive offensive player.
"The defensive backs came in with the purpose of stopping those receivers," Miami cornerback Markese Fitzgerald said. "We made a pact to stop those receivers and we did. We knew would win if we did."
Pitt never made anything happen as John Turman replaced Priestley to go 10-of-22 for 101 yards and an interception. It was a bad day all around or the Turman family; his mother required medical treatment after being hit by a golf cart that shuttles Pitt personnel around the stadium.
Andy Crosland also kicked field goals of 28 yards on Miami's first possession, one kept alive by Kelly's 14-yard throw to Moss on third-and-9, and 26 yards in the fourth quarter. Kelly was 13-of-33 for 236 yards and a touchdown and was helped by a running game that generated 190 yards.
"We came in here with the idea to be patient and see what worked," coach Butch Davis said. "Our defense continued to create turnovers, and defense is what makes things happen on this team."
James Jackson had 69 yards on 16 carries despite playing with a sore ankle and freshman Clinton Portis carried 20 times for 131 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown.
"I thought the key to our passing game was the running game," Kelly said. "Once we got it started, we were able to have a passing game."
Portis ran for 104 yards last week as Miami scored 28 second-half points to rally past West Virginia 28-20. The week before, Miami staged the biggest comeback in Big East history, recovering from a 28-point deficit to beat Boston College 31-28.
The Hurricanes played without freshman running back Jarrett Payton, who was in Chicago for the memorial service for his father, NFL career rushing leader Walter Payton, who died last week.
"We definitely missed Jarrett Payton, both as a player and a friend," Davis said. "We missed him and we dedicated this game to him."
Kelly keyed the Hurricanes' first touchdown drive, hitting Daniel Franks on a 43-yard completion, then finding Santana Moss for 19 yards on fourth-and-12 after Davis disdained the field goal. Kelly scored four plays later to finish the 73-yard drive.
"I really thought we came here with a sense of urgency and consistency," Davis said. "You always come in here expecting a bare knuckles fist fight."
The Hurricanes didn't get one in a game that ultimately became a tuneup for next week's game at Virginia Tech.
Davis also chose not to kick a field goal again on fourth-and-1 from the Pitt 9 early in the fourth quarter and Kelly got the yard. On the next play, Kelly hit Franks in the right rear corner of the end zone for a 17-3 lead that was far too much for Pitt's stalled offense to make up.
Pittsburgh is 0-4 against ranked opponents this season. The Panthers were held without a touchdown for the first time since a 21-0 loss to West Virginia on Nov. 24, 1995.
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