The No. 3 Miami Hurricanes (10-0, 7-0 ACC) overcame a disaster of a first half to keep their undefeated season going. On Saturday against Virginia (6-5, 3-4 ACC), the Hurricanes looked sluggish for one half and allowed Virginia to capitalize on big plays to a 28-14 lead, but Miami roared back with 30 unanswered points to improve on the best start since the last time Miami played for a national championship. Miami topped Virginia 44-28.
Miami players got to wear the famous turnover chain twice in the game, but the biggest turnover may have come with Jaguan Johnson‘s 30-yard interception for a game-tying score in the third quarter. The pick-six knotted the game at 28-28 in a wild third quarter, and Miami never looked back from that point on. Miami took the lead late in the third quarter on a 44-yard field goal by and Malik Rosier and Travis Homer added rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Hurricanes cemented the win.
Rosier was picked off twice in the game, but he ended his day with 210 passing yards and three touchdowns to go with 38 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. His Virginia counterpart, Kurt Benkert, actually had a fantastic afternoon with 28-of-37 for 384 yards and four touchdowns. Until the lone interception thrown by Benkert, he looked more than capable to lead Virginia to an upset on the road. But Virginia needed more out of the running game and could not keep the big plays coming in the fourth quarter as Miami was taking control of the game.
Miami’s 10-0 start is the best start for the Hurricanes since playing for the BCS national championship in the 2002 season. This is also Miami’s first double-digit win season since 2003. That makes this Miami’s first 10-win season since joining the ACC. And they may not be done just yet.
Before making their first trip to the ACC Championship Game in two weeks, Miami will first make a business trip to Pittsburgh for the regular season finale against the Panthers. The Panthers were eliminated from postseason eligibility Saturday afternoon with a road loss to Virginia Tech, dropping Pitt to 4-7 on the year. Virginia will take on the Hokies next week in their regular-season finale on Friday night.
Heading into Saturday’s showdown with No. 3 Notre Dame, there were still plenty of questions about whether No. 7 Miami was a bona fide College Football Playoff contender. By the time the night was over, it’s safe to say there were no more doubts.
The Hurricanes brought back plenty of memories of those title contenders from yesteryear — and created several more over four quarters — after a nostalgia-filled rout of the Irish at Hard Rock Stadium, delivering a 41-8 Biscayne Beatdown that will reverberate well beyond South Florida and could allow the team to move into the top two of the polls by next week.
As much as the night was about the offense looking sharp, it was the swarming Miami defense that ruled supreme with their best effort of the year coming in the biggest game of the season. The team racked up five sacks and nine tackles for loss, combining with four ‘turnover chain’ appearances to utterly shutdown the previously prolific Notre Dame attack. That helped lead to 24 points the other way, seven of which came off Trajan Bandy’s first career interception that he returned 65 yards for an eardrum-shattering pick-six.
That was off the arm of backup quarterback Ian Book, who entered briefly in the second quarter to replace an ineffective Brandon Wimbush (119 yards passing, one touchdown, two INTs). Star tailback Josh Adams spent most of the second half on the exercise bike after appearing to suffer an undisclosed injury and recorded only 40 yards on the ground as the Irish put up points with only seconds left in the third quarter to avoid a shutout.
Though things slowed down after halftime, it was another efficient effort on the other side for head coach Mark Richt’s offense to build upon what they’ve been doing the past few weeks. Quarterback Malik Rosier was solid throwing the football even if the stats weren’t eye-popping (137 yards, 1 TD) and also managed a rushing score that broke things open early on. He teamed up with Travis Homer (146 yards) and DeeJay Dallas (53 yards, two scores) to form quite the deadly combo in the backfield.
The end result of all that carnage in South Florida? Given No. 1 Georgia’s loss to No. 10 Auburn earlier in the day, it’s possible that Richt’s current team could pass his old one in the standings on both Sunday (AP/Coaches Polls) and Tuesday (selection committee). They’ve already clinched their first ever ACC Coastal Division title and will play Clemson for the conference title in what sure seems like a quarterfinal game up in Charlotte in a few weeks.
As for Brian Kelly’s side, their second loss of the year should end any hopes of reaching the playoff after that kind of lopsided result. The Irish still figure to be in a New Year’s Six bowl if they win out and could remain in the top 10 but it’s pretty clear that any hopes of aiming higher need to be reset after that kind of game against a potential playoff team in Miami.
Hard-hitting defense. Big plays on offense. Celebrities in boxes and on the sidelines. A loud crowd on a smoke-filled South Florida night. You know what folks, ‘The U’ might indeed be back on the national scene.
No. 10 Miami secured the inside track to their first ACC Coastal division title on Saturday night, beating No. 13 Virginia Tech 28-10 to remain undefeated and pass their biggest test of the season.
The Hurricanes’ ornate turnover chain made four appearances along the way as part of another strong defensive effort. In addition to hauling in two interceptions, they also recorded two fumble recoveries and bailed out their suspect offense several times after turnovers of their own.
A key moment in the game came midway through the third quarter, quarterback Malik Rosier (193 yards, two touchdowns) had just tossed his third interception and the Hokies were slowly moving toward the end zone. Head coach Justin Fuente opted to go for it on 4th down instead of kicking a long field goal but a bad snap resulted in a fumble and turnover on downs. The ‘Canes promptly capitalized on that sequence by finding the end zone on a 43 yard touchdown pass to Chris Herndon just three plays later.
That extended the Miami lead at a critical time in the contest and they later added to it with a Rosier scramble past the goal line that all but salted the game away in the fourth quarter. The comfortable margin — a blowout by recent standards — was their first win by more than one score since late September. Running back Travis Homer also had 95 yards rushing to pace the home team, including a 64 yard scamper to the end zone in the first half.
While they were in the game most of the night, Virginia Tech never could seize momentum and take control. Josh Jackson threw for 197 yards and two picks under center, doing what he could to only get sacked four times despite constant pressure in his face. Travon McMillian led the team in rushing with 55 yards but it was an otherwise un-memorable effort running the ball. Depending on how things shake out, the Hokies could still be playing for a New Years’ Six bowl bid if they continue to win out but they’ll need some additional help to make it Charlotte given the two conference losses.
Saturday night was all about The U however. Miami will almost certainly move up in the top 10 given the victory and a number of other losses around the country, setting up a massive game at Hard Rock Stadium against old rival, No. 3 Notre Dame. The Irish and Hurricanes have waged some memorable ones over the years with national title implications on the line and it seems that will be the case once again.
It’s been awhile since Virginia Tech and Miami had conference and national championship implications while the defenses were flying around with NFL talent. That’s clearly the case in this year’s matchup however, with the ACC Coastal on the line in South Florida and a massive clash between two College Football Playoff contenders invoking some old memories of their clashes from decades ago.
That didn’t mean there weren’t many big plays on Saturday night however, as No. 10 Miami used several to power their way to a 14-3 lead over No. 13 Virginia Tech heading into the break.
The Hurricanes found the end zone first thanks to a great route by wideout Braxton Berrios, who galloped past the goal line after catching a perfect slant pass from quarterback Malik Rosier. The latter finished the half with 77 yards through the air (to go with 50 yards rushing and an interception) and was looking sharp in his biggest test yet against a feisty Bud Foster defense.
Tailback Travis Homer was responsible for the rest of the team’s points, ripping off a 64 yard touchdown run in the second quarter to finish the half with 71 on the ground.
The ability for the home team to move the ball was a sharp contrast to the visitors. The Hokies managed just one sustained drive in the half and that resulted in a 50 yard field goal after quasi-pitch/fumble from quarterback Josh Jackson. It certainly appeared the offense started to click more and more as the game went on so Justin Fuente’s side is certainly well positioned to mount a comeback after making adjustments in the locker room.
The winner of this one has a clear path to a division title and a potential berth in the College Football Playoff so you can expect a closely contested final two quarters in Miami.
Even the best teams in college football have to gut out a close call along the way to a possible conference championship. For No. 8 Miami (6-0, 4-0 ACC), today may have been that day. A week after Syracuse (4-4, 2-2 ACC) knocked Clemson from the ranks of the unbeatens, the Orange made Miami work for a 27-19 victory in Florida on Saturday afternoon that was much tighter than even that final score may indicate. Struggling to deliver a knockout blow, Miami finally got the decisive blow with a 33-yard touchdown run by Travis Homer to push the Hurricanes closer to victory.
Miami quarterback Malik Rosier passed for 344 yards and two touchdowns. Ahmonn Richards and Christopher Herndon IV each came close to 100-yard games, and Travis Homer rushed for 95 yards with the decisive touchdown run late in the game.
Syracuse never backed down against Miami and still managed to make a game of it despite having four interceptions thrown by Orange quarterback Eric Dungey. It was a poor day through the air for Dungey and the Orange (Dungey was 13-of-41 for 137 yards and four interceptions), but Syracuse made up for it on the ground by working their up-tempo style. Dungey rushed 20 times for 100 yards and was beat up throughout the night. After the game, Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz made it a point to seek out Dungey on the sideline to seemingly offer his respect for an incredible effort.
For another week, Miami is undefeated and remains in good position to potentially reach the ACC championship game for the first time in school history.
With the win, Miami retains their spot atop the ACC Coastal Division with a 4-0 record in conference play. The Hurricanes and NC State are the only teams without a conference loss so far. Next up for the Hurricanes will be a road trip to Chapel Hill next week against a struggling North Carolina team that was getting blasted on the road by Virginia Tech. The way things are unfolding in the ACC, Miami’s conference championship hopes may come down to the game against Virginia Tech on November 4, at home. If Miami can stay undefeated after the Virginia Tech game, they’ll host Notre Dame on November 11 with the possibility of perhaps thinking a bit more than just an ACC title run.
As for Syracuse, Dungey and the Orange get a well-deserved week off before getting back on the field. When they return to the field, they will do so in the state of Florida once more for a game against Florida State. As it turns out, bowl hopes could be on the line for each after Florida State dropped another game earlier in the day to fall to 2-4.