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.
A week after knocking off the ACC favorite and defending national champions, can Syracuse pull off another upset in the ACC? If Syracuse is going to do that against Miami, they have some work to do in the second half. Miami leads Syracuse at halftime, 13-3 while the Orange have had four turnovers.
The momentum of last week’s shocking upset against Clemson did not carry over on the road against Miami for Syracuse. Syracuse’s game-opening drive appeared to end on an interception off a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage, but Miami’s Demetrius Jackson had the ball stripped out of his hands after initially intercepting the ball. In the end, it turned out to be a Syracuse first down and what was effectively a loss of 12 yards on the play.
Turnovers would be the story of the half for Syracuse, however. Miami turned two Eric Dungey interceptions into 10 points in the first half. Malik Rosier completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Christopher Herndon IV to put the Hurricanes up 10-0 eight plays after an interception by the defense. Miami added a field goal after Syracuse was intercepted on the third play of the ensuing possession.
The best drive of the half for Syracuse traveled 71 yards over 17 plays but ended with a 22-yard field goal by Cole Murphy to get the Orange on the board.
The Syracuse defense has done their job. Miami has converted just one of six third-down plays for a first down, and the Hurricanes have not been able to do more damage on the scoreboard despite the abundance of Syracuse turnovers.
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.