Miami is near perfect

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2001

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Miami coach Larry Coker thought his top-ranked Hurricanes played a near-perfect game against then-No. 14 Syracuse. After reviewing the tape Sunday, he realized he was right.

Miami (9-0, 6-0 Big East) racked up 566 yards of offense, didn't have a turnover and recorded its third shutout of the season in holding Syracuse to 185 total yards.

''It was about like we saw,'' Coker said Sunday. ''We thought we played very, very well, and really we did.''

Ken Dorsey threw four touchdown passes, Clinton Portis and Frank Gore each ran for more than 100 yards -- the first time the Hurricanes have had two 100-yard rushers in a game since 1997 -- and tackle Bryant McKinnie shut down NCAA sack leader Dwight Freeney, who didn't even have a tackle.

The defense, which propelled Miami to an 18-7 win at Boston College a week earlier, continued to play well. The Hurricanes have given up a combined 10 points in the last four games against Syracuse, Boston College, Temple and West Virginia.

''I don't think Syracuse was even in field goal range,'' Coker said.

The Orangemen (8-3, 5-1) didn't cross midfield until the third quarter, but even then, a sack pushed them back across the 50-yard line. Syracuse advanced to Miami 27 in the fourth quarter, then threw an interception.

''If there were any doubters out there, maybe we opened their eyes a little,'' guard Brett Romberg said. ''We rose to the occasion.''

The Hurricanes, who have the nation's longest winning streak at 19 games, clinched at least a share of the conference title and virtually locked up a spot in a Bowl Championship Series game.

They also regained the top spot in the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll Sunday, moving back in front of Nebraska (11-0). That should help Miami solidify its No. 2 ranking in the BCS standings released Monday.

All Miami seemingly needs to do is beat Washington (8-2) on Saturday and then Virginia Tech (8-2) on Dec. 1 to secure a spot in the Rose Bowl, the site of the BCS national championship game.

''From a national standpoint, (Syracuse) was a very respected team, the No. 14 team in the country and they had won eight in a row,'' Coker said. ''To beat them as we did, if we want a statement, that was certainly a strong statement.''

Miami wants to make another statement Saturday against the Huskies, who handed Miami its only loss last season -- dashing the Hurricanes' title hopes. Washington also will be returning to the Orange Bowl.for the first time.since snapping Miami's NCAA-record, 58-game home winning streak in 1994.

"Whatever happens, we've got to come out with a win.''

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