Miami Final Prediction

Saturday evening and the Canes have just taken the field. Beaver Stadium is electric. The foundation is rumbling and Taliaferro is moments from leading his troops out of the tunnel. Nittany Lion faithful are crying in their seats while Miami players continue stretching and watching the emotional scene out of curiosity.

Penn State rushes the field. Shrieks fall from the stands. Flashbulbs explode left and right. The moment is everything the folks in Happy Valley have waited for.

Then it ends.

The climax has taken place and Penn State is brought back to reality. A harsh reality, at that. Across the field are the 2001 Miami Hurricanes. Not the rebuilding Canes of 1999 or the overconfident bunch from 1986 – this is a smart, hungry, adversity tested group of young men. A preseason #1 or #2 depending who you ask, Miami will make their statement after the kickoff. Penn State shot their load when Taliaferro strolled out of the tunnel.

Early in the first quarter both squad will settle down and play their respective styles of football. The Canes will have the first game jitters in effect while Penn State will be playing on pure adrenaline. It is likely that Coker and Paterno will keep things conservative the first few drives to feel each other out and to calm their team's nerves.

The Canes will establish a running game behind Clinton Portis and Najeh Davenport, opening things up for Ken Dorsey late in the first quarter. With the running game moving the Canes down field, Miami settles for a field goal the first time in the red zone. The score, 3-0 Canes.

Matt Senneca will be out to make a statement of his own but will overcompensate. An errant Senneca pass finds its way into the arms of cornerback Mike Rumph and after a short return the Miami offense retakes the field.

From 18 yards out Dorsey finds the great white hope Jeremy Shockey across the middle to set the Canes up with a first and goal. Two plays later Davenport bowls his way into the endzone for the first Miami touchdown of the season to make it 10-0, Miami and the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter Penn State begins to show signs of Nittany Lion teams of old. Senneca, still stinging from the first quarter interception, has been ordered by coaches to establish a ground attack. Senior running back Eric McCoo begins chewing up yardage against Randy Shannon's defense. Some adjustments are made and fewer holes begin opening. Penn State goes back to the passing game. On a third and long, Miami cornerback Philip Buchanon goes for the interception instead of the deflection. His timing is off and the ball finds its way into the arms of Penn State receiver Eddie Drummond who take the pass 23 yards for the touchdown. The Nittany Lion score cuts the Canes lead to 3.

On the first play of ensuing drive, Ken Dorsey finds burner Daryl Jones doing his best Santana Moss impersonation. Jones uses his 4.3 speed to blow past the Penn State secondary and catches a 72-yard Ken Dorsey bomb for a Miami touchdown. Momentum back in the Canes favor -- the lead stretches to 17-7.

Two drives later Penn State finds themselves with choice field position after a questionable Clinton Portis fumble. Three running plays after that the Lions can only muster four yards and on 4th and 6 they settle for the field goal. The teams enter the locker room with the score Miami 17 and Penn State 10.

In Coker's first ever halftime speech, he reminds his kids to play within their personalities. They have withstood the worst part of the evening and have a seven-point lead. The plan for the second half is to go with the running game and wear Penn State down. A first half played strictly on emotion; the Lions were almost out of gas. Time to go for the jugular.

The first few drives prove fruitless for both teams until Miami's second possession when Clinton Portis followed a Bryant McKinnie block and scampers the right sideline 41-yards for another Miami touchdown.

The Canes would hold that 24-10 lead until late in the third quarter when Matt Senneca marched his troops 64 yards down the field using a balanced rushing and passing attack. Senneca would find receiver Bryant Johnson in the back of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown. Penn State closed the gap to 24-16 after a missed extra point by shaky sophomore kicker David Kimball.

A 26-yard punt return via Daryl Jones put the Canes at midfield. Two plays later sophomore receiver Andre Johnson out jumps his Penn State defender to pull in an 18-yard Dorsey floater on a timing pattern. The Canes settle for a field goal and are comfortable with a 27-16 lead.

With close to five minutes left in the contest deep in their own territory Penn State abandons the running game and puts the ball back in the quarterback's hands to air it out. The very next play Senneca's receiver fails to look back for the ball in time. Miami safety Ed Reed sees the play from the get go and takes Senneca's errant pass 22-yard to the end zone for another Miami touchdown to give the Canes a 34-16 lead.

Desperate and pass happy, Penn State goes four and out on their final possession. Dorsey and the offense take the field one last time to graciously run the clock out. The scoreboard reads 34-16 and Miami has earned their first win of the season over an emotionally charged Penn State bunch.

OK, so maybe there's a little too much drama and big play action in that story. I mean both Reed and Rumph atone for 1999's game with interceptions? It's a stretch. Still, once Miami makes it through the first five minutes of the game their talent, depth and speed will win out. Penn State can only live off of adrenaline for so long.

While there might have been a little too much Hollywood and script doctoring to my version of Saturday's contest, I'll stick with the conservative final score prediction and hope for more.

Miami 34 Penn State 16

Born and raised in Miami, Chris Bello now lives in San Diego, CA and works as a freelance writer. Feel free to send your comments or to contact him for potential writing assignments at

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