The Miami Hurricanes have a certain swagger back, and the ACC should be taking notice. Miami dominated South Florida in Tampa Saturday afternoon, 49-21. While a victory against the Bulls is little to boast about at this time, Miami has looked very good in the first month of the season and appear to be every bit the title contender in the ACC as Clemson or Florida State.
Miami quarterback Stephen Morris completed 11-of-16 attempts for 222 yards and two touchdowns before taking an early exit with an ankle injury and the game well in hand. Ryan Williams took over and had 153 passing yards and a touchdown. Duke Johnson carried the football 14 times for 84 yards and also got the benefit of some early rest. Stacy Coley was a big target in the passing game, with two touchdowns to lead the receivers. The Miami defense just abused the Bulls all day long as well, aside from South Florida’s opening drive of the game that resulted in a touchdown.
South Florida starting quarterback Steven Bench was up against the best pass defense he may face all season, and it showed. Even with the game out of hand, South Florida head coach opted to stick with Bench through the entire game rather than get someone else in the game. Perhaps that suggests Bench’s job as quarterback will be safe for another week.
Miami will get a chance to flex some conference muscle next weekend when they return home to host Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech will have a couple extra days to prepare for Miami after losing to Virginia Tech at home Thursday night. Following that Georgia Tech game, the Hurricanes get a bye week before visiting a North Carolina team that is really struggling this season. Wins in those two games would set Miami up nicely to make a run to appear in their first ACC Championship Game since joining the conference. Miami’s toughest challenges will come in back-to-back weeks in early November against Florida State and Virginia Tech. If they can avoid slumping through October, Miami should be in very favorable position.
Miami has already defeated Florida and routed the rest of the competition. Now comes the test that is ACC play. If Miami plays the way they have in September, Miami could very well be playing in the ACC Championship Game and give Clemson or Florida State a serious threat.
The situation at South Florida is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Willie Taggart‘s job is just beginning in Tampa and it is pretty clear the Bulls have a lot of rebuilding to do. South Florida had just three wins last season, so the bar is not exactly set too high right now. However, a glance at the rest of the 2013 schedule may prove difficult to predict three wins the rest of the way for South Florida.