No. 1 priority

After having a week to take a deep breath and put the thrilling victory over Florida State in the backburner, the No.1 University of Miami Hurricanes resume their quest for a second consecutive national championship in Morgantown, West Virginia on Saturday.

But the Hurricanes would be wise to leave the suntan lotion and slippers behind and instead pack a hard hat and a lunch pale for the trip. And that's only a little advice coming straight from the top.

"They're going to come right after us, there's no question about that," said Miami coach Larry Coker, as the Hurricanes (6-0, 2-0) prepare to face the West Virginia Mountaineers (5-2. 2-0) Saturday, Oct. 26, at Mountaineer Field in a contest of Big East Conference undefeated squads. "We're in great position- exactly were we want to be at this point- but we're going into a very difficult place to play with a great college atmosphere. They are probably the most improved team in the Big East."

The Hurricanes, coming off a 28-27 victory over the Seminoles Oct. 12, will be looking to extend the nation's longest winning streak to 29 games, while the Mountaineers, riding a two-game winning streak, will attempt to knock off the Miami for the first time in Morgantown since 1993. West Virginia defeated Miami 28-17 in the 1997 at the Orange Bowl.

Something has to give when the ball is kicked off at noon in front of a sellout crowd of 63,500 and a national cable audience.

Miami will arrive in West Virginia on the heels of a shaky defensive effort –especially against the run- in the victory over Florida State. The Hurricanes were kept off balance early by an effective Florida State offensive line and surrendered 296 yards rushing, including 189 by Greg Jones, to the Seminoles.

A lot of the Miami players said after the game that they're inability to stop the FSU running game was due to breakdowns on defense and poor tackling. But whatever the problem it better be corrected quickly.

Miami's run defense, ranked 58th in the nation and allowing 146.3 yards a game, will be faced with a tough assignment in trying to contain West Virginia rushing offense, which is second in the nation producing 297.6 yards a contest.

Right at the forefront of the Mountaineers ground assault is senior running back Avon Cobourne, who is second nationally and first in the conference with 1,002 rushing yards. Cobourne is fresh off a 108-yard rushing day in a 34-7 victory over Syracuse. Cobourne, who averaged 118 yards rushing per game last season, ran for 1,139 yards as a freshman, becoming only the 27th freshman in NCAA history to surpass the 1,110-yard plateau. The 5-9, 190-pounder, who came into the season with 3,455 rushing yards in his career at West Virginia, passed Amos Zereoue for the most rushing yards at WV earlier this season.

Coker knows exactly what the Mountaineers are going to do: Run, run and run some more.

"He's a very active player-like Barry Sanders was at Oklahoma State- and is very tough to catch," said Coker. "I'll tell you he and (Quincy) Wilson are awfully good running backs. I think Avon is a high first-round NFL pick."

The Hurricanes have already experienced how effective Cobourne can be. Despite a 45-3 victory over the Mountaineers last year in the Orange Bowl, Cobourne finished the game with 132 rushing yards on 21 carries. Most of Cobourne's yards came in the first half as West Virginia staying within two touchdowns of the Hurricanes.

"They were very effective in the first half against us last year," said Coker. "They ran it very well."

Wilson has also contributed nicely to the Mountaineers running game with 468 yards (7.8 yards per game) on 60 carries and two touchdowns. West Virginia starting quarterback Rasheed Marshall (94 carries, 331 yards, seven touchdowns) is also a threat to take off with the ball.

Coker said that what the Mountaineers will try to do against the Hurricanes is become typical among their opponents. Already this season, the Seminoles, Boston College and Florida have had success running the ball and controlling the clock against the Hurricanes.

"I obviously think that's a good approach against us- it's worked somewhat- until we prove we can stop it," said Coker. "We have won all the games, but the teams have done a good job of moving the football. I can stand here and say that its going to be better, but we have to see it live. West Virginia is going to run and run the football. It's our responsibility to stop it. It's always a concern when you don't stop the run, so yes it's a concern."

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