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Late game heroics save No. 11 Miami again to help top Georgia Tech

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If enough people call a game a trap game, is it still a trap game? It seemed so judging by the way No. 11 Miami struggled all day long with Georgia Tech. No worries for the Hurricanes though, because Darrell Langham was around to play the hero for the second week in a row.

The receiver’s improbable catch down the sidelines — off a defender’s helmet, no less — helped set the team up for a game-winning field goal a few plays later to beat the Yellow Jackets 25-24 in a wild, rain-soaked game.

Miami trailed most of the afternoon after returning home from their win over rival Florida State last week and looked like they were primed to become yet another top 15 team ready to be upset. Four red zone trips for Mark Richt’s side resulted in just one touchdown after nearly three quarters, as the ‘Canes offense failed to get going against Tech’s bend-don’t-break defense that proved to be a tough combination with Paul Johnson’s clock-churning option offense.

It didn’t help either that the second half started off on the wrong foot… somewhat literally.

In what may have been the craziest play of the day, Miami started the second half with an onside kick. However, the ball failed to go 10 yards off the tee — which Georgia Tech’s Lamont Simmons then realized as he picked the football up and returned it 42 yards the other way for the score that stunned just about everybody in South Florida. The Jackets added another field goal on their next drive and it suddenly looked like they had seized control and were about to pull off the upset. Adding to it, a massive rain storm started to dump gallons upon gallons of water onto the field.

But those conditions proved to be just what the appropriately named Hurricanes needed. Freshly minted starter Travis Homer found the end zone off the edge early in the final quarter as part of his 170 yard, one touchdown effort on the ground. A pair of punts left the team in a do-or-die situation with the clock ticking off but it didn’t seem to matter for quarterback Malik Rosier (297 yards, one TD), who found Langham on 4th down to put the team in position to knock in a 24-yarder for the win.

The end result means that ‘The U’ will unofficially be “back” on the national stage as an undefeated top 10 team come Sunday. That they needed yet another heroic effort is probably not lost on the coaching staff but digging down for an improbable win on a weekend where they inducted Michael Irvin, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Warren Sapp and Sean Taylor into the school’s ring of honor is still a pretty good sign for the team going forward as they remain atop the ACC standings.

No. 13 Miami scores first win over Florida State since 2009 with late heroics

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It was a long time coming, but No. 13 Miami (4-0, 2-0 ACC) finally has a win over Florida State (1-3, 1-2 ACC) for the first time since 2009. In a game that featured four lead changes in the final half of the fourth quarter, it was Miami with the last laugh with Darrell Langham hauling in a miraculous catch for a 23-yard touchdown pass from Malik Rosier to give the Hurricanes the 24-20 lead, and as it turned out, the win.

The touchdown would be reviewed by the replay officials to determine if Langham’s knee touched the ground prior to the ball crossing the goal line. Had the replay officials had the benefit of using goal-line cameras (it’s 2017, why is this not automatic at this point?), then there is a chance to ball would have been marked shy of the end zone. But because that angle was not available, it remains a guessing game as to how the replay would have played out. And if the ball had been marked short, Miami might have had one chance for the endzone before having to try for a game-tying field goal. As it turns out, the replay upheld the call on the field (officially, the call on the field was not confirmed, but ruled the play stands) and Miami prevented Florida State from returning the ensuing kickoff for a score in the final seconds.

After Miami took a 17-13 lead on a Braxton Berrios touchdown catch in the back of the endzone, James Blackman led the Florida State offense down the field without any fear. Blackman was five-for-five on the late fourth quarter possession, including a 20-yard pass to Auden Tate for the touchdown after it appeared Tate slipped by a couple of confused Miami defenders. The touchdown gave Florida State the 20-17 lead with just under 90 seconds to play in the game.

Miami opened the second half of the game by marching 62 yards on 12 plays to score a game-tying field goal by Michael Badgley. After picking off Florida State quarterback James Blackman on FSU’s first play of the ensuing possession, Miami threatened once again but Malik Rosier had a 2nd down pass from the 32-yard line picked off by Stanford Samuels III. Miami’s defense was locked in though and forced a quick three-and-out, and after a tremendous return by Braxton Berrios to the Florida State 21-yard line, Rosier made up for his earlier turnover with a quick strike to Berrios for the first touchdown of the game and the 10-3 lead.

Florida State tied the game in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Izzo and the Seminoles took a 13-10 lead on their next possession with a Ricky Aguayo field goal from 38 yards out. But Miami answered with a go-ahead touchdown on the ensuing possession as the teams got set to exchange the lead four times in the final minutes.

Miami remains undefeated now and is looking like a team that may have what it needs to finally reach the ACC Championship Game, but back-to-back games against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in November will probably determine one way or the other if Miami should be thrown in the conversation for the College Football Playoff. Meanwhile, Florida State’s struggles are starting to really grow concerning.

This marked the first time Jimbo Fisher lost a game against Miami as the head coach of Florida State. Under Fisher, Florida State was 15-1 against FBS-level competition from the state of Florida before today, with the only other loss coming against Florida in 2012. This was Miami’s first win against Florida State since 2009, when Bobby Bowden was the head coach of the Seminoles.

Next up for Florida State is a road trip to Durham, North Carolina next week to play Duke. The Blue Devils have lost back-to-back games against Miami and Virginia and will be hoping not to fall in a deeper hole in the Coastal Division next week.  Miami will return home for a key Coastal Division showdown with Georgia Tech. The Yellow-Jackets are 2-0 in ACC play and will be coming off a bye week to prepare for the Hurricanes.

Malik Rosier solid in guiding No. 14 Miami to win over Duke in ACC Coastal clash

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All offseason long, folks wondered just how well the ACC could respond to losing a number of quarterbacks to the NFL. A quarter of the way through the season, the answer in Miami sure seems to be that the Hurricanes will be one of the teams that are just fine on that front.

Signal-caller Malik Rosier out-dueled his highly touted counterpart at Duke on Friday night and helped lead Miami to a 31-6 win that gives the team a solid inside track in the Coastal Division race.

Rosier didn’t have an incomplete pass until well into the second quarter as part of a hot start and wound up finishing with 270 yards, two touchdowns and an interception to go with another 45 yards and a score rushing. While things didn’t quite come as easy for the redshirt junior in the second half, it was nevertheless another quality start for a team that moves to 3-0 ahead of their big rivalry game at Florida State next week.

While it was a good night for the quarterback, star running back Mark Walton didn’t quite have it so easy. Though he broke off a few nice runs throughout the evening, he finished with just 51 yards on the ground and was injured in the fourth quarter that saw him limp off with a leg injury. Backup Travis Homer promptly ripped off a 40 yard touchdown on the next series to seal the victory after taking over in the backfield.

Not everything went well on the night for the ‘Canes however. Punter Zach Feagles made the highlight reel in a way no specialist wants to by booting a negative one-yard punt (that wasn’t blocked) in the third quarter. Yes, really.

As for the Blue Devils, they were on the verge of getting right back into things several times throughout the game but never could turn the corner. QB Daniel Jones had his moments, but was under pressure all night and managed just 166 yards on 21 completions while also tossing an interception. Though he did everything he could with limited options, the team went just 5-of-19 on third down and converted just one of their fourth down attempts.

Given the ACC Coastal chaos we’ve seen in the division in the past, a loss by no means knocks Duke out of the title race. Still, the big takeaway from Friday night came on the other sideline as Miami took home a victory and made another big step in the right direction under Mark Richt.

Mark Richt’s ‘guess is’ Ahmmon Richards ‘will be ready to go’ for Miami vs. Duke

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It appears No. 14 Miami’s passing attack will be bolstered for its ACC opener this coming Saturday.  Maybe.

On his radio show Monday, Mark Richt seemed cautiously optimistic that Ahmmon Richards will be available to play in the Week 5 game against Duke this Saturday.  Richards hasn’t played at all yet this season as he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury that surfaced in the middle of summer camp.

The wide receiver did, though, practice Sunday, leading to Richt’s hope that the sophomore will see the field for the Hurricane against the Blue Devils.

“We didn’t do a lot on a Sunday, but he seems to be doing fine,” the head coach said by way of the Sun-Sentinel. “My guess is he’ll be ready to go.”

Last season, Richards’ 934 receiving yards and 19.1 yards per catch were tops on the Hurricanes.  His 49 receptions were second on the team.  Following that breakout season, he was named a consensus Freshman All-American.

With Richards sidelined, Braxton Barrios leads the ‘Canes in receiving yards (140) and yards per reception (17.5), while Christopher Herndon‘s nine catches through two games lead the way as well.

ACC preseason poll predicts FSU will beat Miami for ACC title

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The Miami Hurricanes are set to embark on their 14th season as a member of the ACC since moving over from the old Big East. The Hurricanes were brought in to the ACC to help give the football product a boost, but Miami has yet to play for an ACC championship. Could that drought end this season?

Miami was chosen as the ACC’s Coastal Division favorite by the preseason poll at ACC media days. The Hurricanes edged out defending Coastal Division champion Virginia Tech for the top preseason spot in the division. With Mark Richt gearing up for his second season on the job at Miami, the expectations continue to rise as he tries to emulate some of the success he had at Georgia in the SEC. Considering the ACC’s Coastal Division tends to be a division up for grabs the last few years, why not Miami this season?

In the Atlantic Division, the preseason poll is heavy on Florida State, with defending ACC and national champion Clemson coming in second place behind the Seminoles. Florida State is being hyped as a top playoff contender for the 2017 season, and the preseason poll out of the ACC seems to support that thought pretty well. Florida State will open the season with a bang against Alabama in Atlanta. If all goes according to plan, it could end up being a preview of a future playoff or national championship game this season.

Louisville quarterback and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson was chosen as the preseason ACC player of the year, easily outpacing the next man in line, Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois.

ACC Championship
  1. Florida State – 118
  2. Clemson – 35
  3. Louisville – 7
  4. (tie) Virginia Tech – 3
    (tie)Miami – 3
  5. Duke – 1
Atlantic Division  
(First place votes in parenthesis)                  
  1. Florida State (121) – 1,108
  2. Clemson (37) – 1,007
  3. Louisville (9) – 843
  4. NC State – 658
  5. Wake Forest – 415
  6. Syracuse  – 362
  7. Boston College – 283
Coastal Division
(First place votes in parenthesis)                  
  1. Miami (103) – 1,065
  2. Virginia Tech (40) – 932
  3. Georgia Tech (9) – 708
  4. Pitt (7) – 673
  5. North Carolina (4) – 606
  6. Duke (4) -473
  7. Virginia -219
ACC Player of the Year
  1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville – 113
  2. Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State – 23
  3. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson – 11
  4. Harold Landry, DE, Boston College – 8
  5. Jaylen Samuels, AP, NC State – 7
  6. Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse – 2
  7. (tie) Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami – 1
    (tie) Ahmmon Richards, WR, Miami – 1
    (tie) Daniel Jones, QB, Duke – 1