Thursday's game was a reunion of sorts for 10 former high school teammates at various Florida schools.
Miami's Travarous Bain, Vernon Carey, Jarrell Weaver and David Williams and Pitt's Torrie Cox played for state power Miami Northwestern. UM's Santonio Thomas, out for the season with a chest muscle injury, played with Panthers Claude Harriott and Tremaine Knight at Glades Central High in Belle Glade.
Miami's Quadtrine Hill and Pitt's Roosevelt Bynes were teammates at Piper High School in Sunrise.
Pitt has nine players from Florida; Miami has one from Pennsylvania. Pitt redshirt freshman defensive back Darren McCray is from St. Petersburg.
The (Florida) Panthers were looking forward to playing on familiar turf.
"It's almost perfect," said Cox, a standout cornerback. "I'm going down there my senior year, all my friends and family will be there and we have a chance to win the Big East championship. I couldn't ask for anything better. It's like a reunion. I played against just about everybody in their receiving corps. I was on the same side of the ball as their offensive guys in high school."
Bynes had a big play early, a 4-yard pass from Rod Rutherford to give Pitt a 14-7 lead late in the second quarter.
INJURED 'CANES: Beard injured his right knee when he collided with Pitt's Shawntae Spencer with 6:53 left in the first half. The receiver was diagnosed with a tear to his anterior cruciate ligament, which could put him out for the season. Defensive end Cornelius Green sprained a knee a few minutes later. The severity was unknown. UM tailback Willis McGahee's 69-yard TD run washis 18th rushing score of the season, eclipsing Edgerrin James' school mark set in 1998. He also got his eighth 100-yard game of the season, tying Ottis Anderson (1978) and Clinton Portis (2001) for most in a season. The 13 yards passing by Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey in the first half were his fewest for a half as a starter. Miami entered 5-1 all-time Thursday nights, the loss coming to Pitt in 1997. In 11 previous games against No. 1 teams, Pitt was 0-10-1 (the tie coming to Army in 1958).
_ MICHAEL SNYDER