UM Not Concerned With Opponent

The outcome of the Florida-Tennessee game was still hanging in the balance and minutes had barely elapsed from the Hurricanes 26-24 escape in Blacksburg, but Larry Coker was already getting pestered with what seemed to be on everybody's mind.

Coach, how special would a Florida-Miami match-up in the Rose Bowl be for you personally?, asked a newspaper reporter. Does facing Florida again in a bowl game make it any less meaningful for you?, fired another.

Turns out the Hurricanes first-year coach could have saved his breath.

The top-ranked Hurricanes (11-0), who finished a perfect regular-season with a 26-24 victory over Virginia Tech, will be playing for the national championship in the No. 1 vs. No. 2 Rose Bowl, Jan. 3 in Pasadena, California. Unlike the Gators, who will stay a lot closer to home and out of the Rose Bowl as a result of their 34-32 setback at the hands of Tennessee.

"I was never concerned with a possible Miami-Florida game in the Rose Bowl. All I was concerned with was finding a way to get our football team to Pasadena, California," said Coker. "All I know is that the University of Miami is going to play for the national championship."

Although he was surprised that the Gators lost to the Volunteers adding to the slew of expected results in the regular season's final two weeks, Coker said that he never gave much though to the Hurricanes opposition in the Rose Bowl before Saturday's turn of events. And he still hasn't.

"We really haven't even thought of who our opponent is going to be," Coker said. "Whomever wins their part of it and gets through is who we'll go up against. We're just thrilled to get the opportunity to go there."

The Hurricanes can go ahead and start making all their travel plans for Pasadena, but they still don't know who their opponent will be. The Vols upset of the Gators combined with previous No. 3 Texas falling to Colorado in the Big 12 championship game has put everything on hold for another week.

While the Hurricanes will hold on to the top spot in the BCS standings released later today, Tennessee (10-1) will likely move up to No. 2. Nebraska (11-1) could slip back into title contention at No. 3 a week after losing to Colorado. Oregon, coming off a 17-14 victory over Oregon State in their regular season finale, mostly likely will be at No. 4, followed by No. 5 Colorado.

Tennessee would in all probability end all speculation and play Miami in the Rose Bowl with a victory over LSU in the SEC championship game. If the Vols loss, Nebraska would get top billing over Oregon to face the Hurricanes. The Ducks are expected to lose ground in the BCS rankings after beating the Beavers by a field goal.

Coker won't be paying much attention to the LSU-Tennessee, instead occupying his time with trying to find tape and scouting reports on the Hurricanes future opponent.

Miami is 0-1 all-time against the Volunteers, suffering a 35-7 defeat in the 1986 Sugar Bowl. Although Miami lost to Nebraska 24-17 in the 1995 Orange Bowl, UM has won five of nine in the series. The Hurricanes defeated the Cornhuskers 31-30 in the 1984 Orange Bowl to capture their first of four national championships in school history.

"At this point every team left is very good. Tennessee showed how good they are against Florida and Nebraska is back in the mix. We'll start getting ready for whoever it is." Coker added.

INJURY UPDATE: Senior offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, who injured his left knee against the Hokies and returned to the wearing a sleeve, had an MRI performed on Sunday, but the results have not been revealed. Andre Johnson and Andre Williams should be ‘fine' and ready to go, Coker said.

GET THEM NOW: Tickets to the Rose Bowl can be ordered at 1-800-GO-CANES. UM has been allotted close to 20,000 tickets at $160 each.

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