'Canes present plenty of problems

Quarterback Jacory Harris admonished his teammates earlier this season not to listen to pundits talk about Miami's success but to limit their television viewing to "SpongeBob SquarePants" on cable TV.

It seems, however, that Harris himself might be taking a peek elsewhere every once in a while.

Asked about the Hurricanes' position in the ACC race, the sophomore said he had heard an Orange Bowl official say something like the conference would take the highest-rated team if there was a three-way tie at the top of the Coastal Division standings at the end of the regular season.

He wasn't sure where he had heard it, he said, but you can be sure it wasn't on the Nickelodeon network.

"It really doesn't matter," he said. "If we don't win the next game, then we're not even in the talk."

The Hurricanes are "in the talk" now because while they were taking care of business against three non-conference opponents, other ACC teams were playing key league games that will impact their division hopes.

Most notably, Georgia Tech beat Virginia Tech, which means the Hurricanes, Yellow Jackets and Hokies all have one conference loss each. They currently trail Virginia, which is 2-0 in ACC play, in the division, but the Cavaliers have yet to take on any of the favorites and don't figure to last.

It's far too early to tell how any tie-breaker scenarios would work out if the two Techs and Miami end up with identical ACC records, but one thing is for sure at this point: The Hurricanes won't be doing themselves any favors if they lose to a Clemson team Saturday that is coming off its strongest effort of the season.

The Tigers dominated Wake Forest 38-3 in their last outing after their bye week. Their offense completed drives, and the defense harassed Wake quarterback Riley Skinner into a very untypical 11-of-24 passing day.

They intercepted him twice and got to him for five sacks.

But Miami presents a whole different array of problems. From a more consistent running game to a handful of tall wide receivers who are all capable of creating big plays - the Hurricane offense resembles more of the elite-level teams from earlier in the decade than anything else.

"We know we've got a big challenge ahead of us," Clemson corner Chris Chancellor said. "Their receivers are physical and fast and they don't just throw it to one guy. Any number of guys can beat you."

MIAMI NOTES: Miami went through the first two games giving up only one sack in wins over Florida State and Georgia Tech. But the Hurricanes have surrendered 15 over the last four games, including six in the win over UCF in their last outing. It's significant because Clemson has gotten to the quarterback for losses 17 times in its six games, most of any team in the league that has played just six games and tied for 19th in the nation.

* RB Javarris James has moved past Frank Gore into seventh place on Miami's all-time rushing list. He gained 65 yards on 17 carries last week to give him 2,032 rushing yards. Gore ran for 1,975 yards. Right ahead of James is Willis McGahee with 2,067 rushing yards.

SERIES HISTORY: Miami 5-Clemson 2 (last meeting, 2005, Miami 36-30 three OT).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Miami's running game can be up and down but has been strong in clutch situations. The thing that makes the Hurricanes go, however, is a passing game led by sophomore QB Jacory Harris. Harris is throwing for 253 yards a game and has distributed the ball to 16 different receivers.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Injuries at linebacker and in the secondary have hurt depth on defense, but the Hurricanes still rank fourth in total defense in the ACC, giving up just over 305 yards a game. LB Colin McCarthy leads in tackles with 38 and also has one of the team's three interceptions. CB Brandon Harris and S Randy Phillips, who is out, have the other two. DEs Allen Bailey and Marcus Robinson lead in sacks with three each.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Sapp on one end and Bowers on the other -- they just have a two-headed monster there at defensive end." -- Miami QB Jacory Harris, referring to Clemson defensive ends Ricky Sapp and Da'Quan Bowers, who have combined for six sacks for the Tigers.

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