A Look Back At Syracuse

Embarrassment. Is there any bigger motivator? Righting a wrong. Solidifying your worth when being written off. Proving that a past mistake was a once-in-a-lifetime type of error as opposed to the first step in a downward spiral.

Boston College made the Canes look bad. What Miami did to Syracuse was almost criminal. Beaten, mauled and left for dead. No mercy. Clicking on all cylinders. Precision. A well-oiled machine. The Orangemen ran into a buzzsaw and the Canes showed no mercy. 59-0. The complete game Miami fans were praying for and then some.

"I think the team was challenged and they wanted to make a statement. I also think the offense was a little embarrassed last week and we're a better offensive team than that," said head coach Larry Coker.

Statement made, Coach. Point proven.

The offense, which forgot to show up in Chestnut Hill, was front and center Saturday night. Ken Dorsey lit up the Miami skyline going 13 for 20 with 224 yards. He also cashed in his four interceptions against B.C. for four touchdowns against the L'il Orange. Flawless, precise and focused, Dorsey is where he belongs – back in the Heisman race as well as sidelined with a backwards cap on early in the fourth quarter.

Clinton Portis or Frank Gore? Pick you poison. Regardless, you're not stopping either one of them. Portis got his touchdown and 132 yards on 18 carries. Scary thing is true freshman Gore out gained him with 153 yards on 11 carries as a backup. Too bad Willis McGahee was injured. He could've had a field day against a worthless Syracuse defense as well.

Which is more impressive, the 59 points the Canes tallied or the 0 points given up? Where was Dwight Freeney? I think I caught a glimpse of his shadow behind Mount McKinnie. ‘Mr. 16 ½ Sacks' coming into this weekend's contest, he sulked out of the Orange Bowl with his tail between his legs. A non-factor. He'd have done his team just as much good if he overslept the game in his hotel or watched on TV from back home. Then again, Cane fans should be thankful. Freeney's a baller and deserved the hype. He is a force to be reckoned with. Just not against the Bryant McKinnie.

The Orangemen couldn't stop the bleeding. Tagged five minutes into the game by a Todd Sievers' field goal, it was all downhill from there. Andre Johnson made the ‘Cuse secondary look flat out stupid on a few plays. Ol' Jeremy Shockey scored his second touchdown of the night and flipped the ball to the official while throwing up his hands as if to say, "this is too easy." If I didn't know any better I'd say Mr. Shockey was damn near bored.

Still, if one was looking for fireworks this game, Phillip Buchanon packed more punch than a half stick of dynamite. What didn't P.B. do on Saturday? Besides returning an interception 76 yards for six points, recovering a fumble that lead to a touchdown, a 17-yard sack on Anderson and a 59-yard punt return, he was spotted at halftime rescuing a cat from a tree, helping an old lady cross US1 and leading a seminar on world peace. I wonder where one can get a deal on some old "Buchanon for President!" signs that were misprinted.

The game Cane fans waited all season for was played this past weekend. Too bad only 52,896 witnessed it in person. For eight straight match ups, UM faithful have screamed this team needed to play a complete game. Penalty and mistake free. Bring an aggressive running game. Sport a monstrous defense. Well Cane fans, it was all there. For the 30,000 of you living south of Orlando that could've fit in the O.B. and no showed – you blew it. For the better part of Saturday afternoon there was no better place to be than that Horseshoe in Little Havana.

Questions were answered this past weekend. Fears were calmed.

Miami was exposed alright – exposed as a legitimate threat for the National Title game in Pasadena.

Razor sharp offense, hell-on-wheels defense, rock solid special teams and a proud group of young men make up the 2001 squad. The Canes let it be known that they are hungry. They smell that championship that eluded them last January. Three games stand between the Canes and the Sears Trophy. A mere 180 minutes of solid football separate Miami from that fifth ring.

If that's not enough motivation, the next two opponents will provide some drama.

Washington's Huskies broke Cane hearts twice now. Ended a 58-home game win streak and provided the only blemish on a 2000 season that should've ended with a National Championship. UW laughs at the thought of having the Canes' number. They got in Miami's heads twice now. They'll come to the Orange Bowl believing they can win. What else would they think holding a rare 2-0 record against the mighty Canes?

Virginia Tech? Where would a Cane fan even start? How about winless in Blacksburg since 1992? Or the embarrassing 43-10 loss in 1999? I'm sure the thought of Tony Gaiter's dropped late game sure touchdown followed up by a Scott Covington interception that went 101 yards the wrong way letting Tech secure a 21-7 win on the Canes' home turf still stings. Miami has more than enough reasons to get fired up for a season breaking game in "The Barn That Frank Beamer Built."

Relief and redemption come in the form of two more gut-wrenching weekends, UM faithful. These Canes know what lies ahead. It is all too familiar turf. They've been burned there before. Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me. Miami is ready. They are hungry. To say the Canes see the light at the end of the tunnel is an understatement. They smell it. They're ready to taste the fruits of their labor. This squad is on a mission. I fear for anyone too foolish to respect that.

Washington, you saw what a focused, determined and flawless Miami team did to Syracuse even without all that much bad blood between the teams. News flash Huskies – Canes have zero love for you. Many downright loathe you.

From the 1991 team that had to split a title with your lesser squad to the 1994 bunch that has to live with the fact they let the home win streak end – there's a lot of bad blood between Coral Gables and Seattle.

Last year's Canes remember you as an arrogant crew that played the better first half and ruined a dream. They've had over a year to marinate on that bad taste in their mouths. Revenge is redemption. Redemption comes Saturday night – under the lights – in Miami's backyard. UW is about to find themselves in a situation they'll want no part of. That plane ride home will be the longest of their lives.

They can feel what Miami felt last year. It's UM's time to shine.

Washington and Virginia Tech are all that's left, boys. Take ‘em down.

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 cbello@san.rr.com


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