BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
When you’re a Power Five School and have a history of winning like the Miami Hurricanes, when you’re winning, all it takes are some key wins to get National Championship consideration.
The month of September saw the Miami Hurricanes defeat Miami (Ohio), Texas A&M, Bethune Cookman, and Temple. The Hurricanes were ranked as high as No.17 in the polls. The Hurricanes offense scored 38, 48, 48 and 41 points respectively during that stretch.
Their next opponent Georgia Tech on October 7, was coming off a 38-27 loss to the Bowling Green Falcons. So as conventional wisdom would lead you to think, this was a Miami rout waiting to happen.
But that’s why you play the games.
When you look at the game offensively, Miami led in total yards 453-250.
As I watched the contest, I was surprised that the Canes only led 3-0 at halftime. Where was this high-powered offense that could potentially produce future NFL players?
The one thing that will kill any team is turnovers as Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke completed 24/36 for 288 yards, one touchdown and tossed three interceptions.
The Hurricanes also lost two fumbles including a play that will be talked about for years to come. In the waning seconds of the contest, with Georgia Tech out of timeouts, all Miami had to do was kneel down in victory formation and the Canes would improve to 5-0. Instead, Coach Mario Cristobal elected to run the ball and Donald Chaney, who had 24 carries for 106 yards with a 4.4 average fumbled the ball and Georgia Tech took over.
The Yellow Jackets put together the miraculous winning drive of four plays, 74 yards in 25 seconds to win the game 23-20. The winning touchdown came when Georgia Tech QB Haynes King threw a 44-yard touchdown pass Christian Leary.
This was a contest that saw Miami dominate in first downs 23-13 and Yellow Jackets QB King was 12/25 for 151 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The Hurricanes self destructed as they were penalized six times for 80 yards. Miami led in Time of Possession 35:24-24:34.
Going into the game, Miami was a 19.5 point favorite and the over/under was 56.5. But that’s not the performance the crowd of 58,045 witnessed.
Instead, the fans saw a team lose because of a coaches gaffe and this loss saw Miami drop from 17-25 in the National Rankings. A day later, Cristobal owned his mistake that he should have had two kneel downs in victory formation. Unfortunately for Cristobal, this same mistake occurred when he was coaching at the University of Oregon.
This blunder was talked about during the following week in the National Media knowing full well that this loss took the Canes out of National Championship consideration and cost the programs millions of dollars in the process where they’re College Football Playoff aspirations took a hit.
After the game, I was in sponge mode and decided to let my colleagues ask the questions to the select players and Cristobal. All five videos totaled about 11 minutes combined. What was there to say about a heart-breaking loss that will be talked about for years?
I appeared on a couple of podcasts that week and I told the audience that the crowd was stunned, in addition to members of the media.
But now the question would be, how would the Miami Hurricanes respond the following week in Chapel Hill, to face the No.12 North Carolina Tar Heels?
The Hurricanes held their own in the first half by taking a 17-14 lead into the locker room at halftime. But the third quarter was the difference in the ballgame as North Carolina scored 21 unanswered points to take a 35-17 lead and proceeded to win the game 41-31.
Van Dyke went 31/48 for 391 yards, had four touchdowns and two interceptions. Henry Parrish led the Canes in rushing with 13 carries for 73 yards while Xavier Resptrepo had 11 receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns. In the Georgia Tech game, Restrepo had 12 receptions for 123 yards.
The key final number vs North Carolina are as follows:
*Miami led in first downs, 28-24.
*North Carolina dominated in rushing 235-91.
*Miami led with passing yards 391-273.
*North Carolina led in total yards 508-482.
*Interceptions, Miami had two and North Carolina had zero.
*Penalties, North Carolina 14/147 and Miami had 7/60.
*Time of Possession, 30:04-29:56.
The Hurricanes loss dropped them to 4-2 and they head into tonight’s must win home contest vs the Clemson Tigers (4-2). Miami needs this win in the worst way as it wants to regain some national respect in an attempt to make it to a higher tier bowl game.
At the Georgia Tech Game, there were representatives from the Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, three from the New York Giants. From a Bowl standpoint, there was a representative from the Senior, two from the Pop Tarts and one from the Tax Slayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.
I’ll be curious to see who comes out tonight at Hard Rock Stadium as game time is 8 PM.
But as I’ve mentioned, this is a must win for the Hurricanes against a program that has been a national power under coach Dabo Swinney.
We have videos in this story and encourage you to watch them.
It was a tough night, but heart-breaking losses are a part of all sports even though they sting the most at times like this.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at email@example.com. You can find him on Twitter @TribuneSouth and see his broadcasts by Subscribing to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.