Miami 38, Boston College 6 – some blueprint.
Truth be told, no one has a clue how to solve the Miami riddle. The only question after this weekend remains how good will the Canes be when they finally bring their "A" game and click on all cylinders?
While the Eagles put their best foot forward and attempted to slow down the Canes with Clock Management: 101, you can only contain Miami for so long. It has been years since an opponent has been able to shut down the Canes for sixty minutes and that trend doesn't look to be reversed anytime soon. The sleeping giant awakens at some point. When it happens it's like a freight train barreling down hill. Your only hope is to get the hell out of its way.
This most recent Boston College visit brought a lot of hype. Being the only team to truly give Miami a scare in recent memory, skeptics wondered if the Eagles had the formula to test the Canes' mettle once again. UM answered the bell with a collective and confident, "no." Lightning wasn't going to strike twice. The 18-7 thriller in Chestnut Hill was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Rarely will an opponent come that close to upsetting the Canes in the final minute of the contest. BC had their moment to shine but they burned out one play too soon.
On the surface there may have been some out there who flinched upon seeing the 6-3 Eagles' lead with 1:13 left in the second quarter. Where was the potent Miami offense? How was this such a low scoring contest? It became a game of keep away combined with beat the clock and the Eagles were leading 18:20 to Miami's 11:40 at the half. Boston College head coach Tom O'Brien would've liked to stay with this approach going into the second half but the Eagles lost the lead and the momentum with 28 seconds left in the half.
That's when ESPN began their nationwide broadcast of "The Willis McGahee Show."
In the first truly explosive play of the evening, McGahee shook off four tackles en route to a 48 yard run setting up the Canes with a first-and-goal from the Boston College one-yard line. He scored on the ensuing play, giving the Canes a lead they wouldn't surrender the rest of the evening.
Boston College had a chance to make a statement in their opening drive of the third quarter. Instead it was the Canes that made a statement of their own. The game of keep away was over. It was time for some hard-core, defensive Hurricane football. Miami's offense had been awakened and it'd take more than a few BC first downs to keep the Eagles in the contest.
An up the gut first down run that went nowhere began the half. On second down, O'Brien let Brian St. Pierre drop back with the intent to pass. Cornelius Green put and end to that with what should've been a double sack as he took out lineman Marc Parenteau and St. Pierre in one fell swoop. Third down brought another errant St. Pierre pass that went in and out of the hands of Antrel Rolle in what would've been a "pick six." Fourth down brought some aggressive Miami special teams play as the Canes looked for the block. Settling for good field position, the Ken Dorsey led offense was ready to make a statement in their first possession of the second half.
Moments later McGahee was off to the races again. His 30-yard run had the Canes in the red zone. Five plays later McGahee had his second touchdown of the evening and Miami sported a 17-6 lead. Time for Miami's defense to step up and feast on a weak, one-dimensional Eagle offense, putting this game out of reach for good. But not just yet as McGahee had one more big play in his bag of tricks before signing off.
The cat and mouse game continued for the better part of the third quarter and then "it" happened. A short Dorsey to McGahee screen quickly became a 77-yard gain. The Eagles were sucking wind and no one on the other side of the ball could lay a finger on No. 2. Kellen Winslow II hauled in the touchdown pass from Dorsey giving the Canes the 24-6 advantage, but there was no mistaking who put this team on his back and rode the Canes to victory – Willis McGahee.
With the sizable lead, Miami's defense could finally put the game to rest. Pinned deep in Hurricane territory, BC stuck with the run and linebacker DJ Williams stuck it to Eagle running back Derrick Knight, knocking him into next week. Williams' counterpart Jon Vilma scooped up the loose ball and barreled his way into the end zone. Miami 31, Boston College 6. The Eagles were completely out of their game and the Canes were knee deep in theirs.
The final score of the contest came in familiar form as Dorsey went for the jugular, hitting main target Andre Johnson for a 33-yard touchdown one play after an Eagle turnover. Equally as fitting was the Miami defense setting up the play when Mo Sikes laid out BC tight end Sean Ryan, forcing a fumble quickly scooped up by Rolle.
This year's battle lacked the drama of last season's Thrill On Chestnut Hill. Instead it was a throwback to the typical Miami performance when the Eagles visit our house. All the hype? Much ado about nothing. The Canes are still perched a top the college football universe and this past week provided nothing but false hope to all hoping the dynasty would come tumbling down. It will take more than "keep away" and conservative play to bring Miami back to a mortal's level.
The gap remains between Miami's solid No. 1 ranking and the rest of the pack. Week in and week out opponents will bring their "A" when the Canes come calling. Unfortunately for them it only takes the Canes' "B" game to walk out of a stadium victorious. Dorsey is yet to hit his stride as he works with a refurbished offensive line, tailor made for McGahee and the running attack. He will eventually settle in and have that break out game that fans are awaiting and opponents are dreading. Special teams and the kicking game are hitting a mild funk, but they will pull out as well. Todd Sievers won't be down long and is allowed some slack as he has been near perfect kicking for the Canes the past few seasons. Freddie Capshaw and long snapper Chris Harvey are working out their kinks as well. Harvey missed six games last season due to knee surgery and will regain his form.
With a bye week on the horizon and another "warm up" type game against Connecticut on October 5th, all signs point to that long awaited breakout game the following week. The opponent? Florida State. The site? Our house. The streak? Two games and counting.
Yes fans, it's about that time. Miami and Florida State 2002. Are you ready?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org