'Cuse Next Up

Now, with the Ohio State Buckeyes assured a spot in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, all eyes are on Miami, as the Hurricanes attempt to reach their second National Title Game in as many years. We have all heard the newest line coming out of Coral Gables, "well, everyone seems to bring their ‘A' game to us." No kidding, the ‘Canes are the defending National Champion with 32 straight wins in their belt, what else do you expect?

Opposing teams are going to come out of their locker room more focused and intense than usual. This reaction is natural when you are playing in a game where a win, no matter what your record, will make your season. And there is no doubt about it, Syracuse, with all but this game behind it, will be looking for redemption as they have failed to become bowl eligible, no matter the result come this Saturday. It is for that reason Miami must begin now, starting in Syracuse, to come out of the gate at a sprint instead of the customary lackluster jog. The ‘Canes have to realize that as long as the opposing team stays in the game, they believe that they can win, and the longer they maintain that belief, the more difficult the challenge.

Everyone keeps talking about the fact that we have two games left in the regular season. Forget about that, we have one game to worry about, and only one game, and that is Syracuse. While it is true that the Orangemen are certainly having an off year, they have won three out of the last four games, including an overtime victory over Virginia Tech. The Carrier Dome can be an imposing venue for visiting teams, so long as the Orangemen remain in the game. Take it to them early, and the Dome will be as quiet as many Seminole fans were yesterday upon hearing that the next coming of Charlie Ward has a better chance of playing with the Knicks than ever playing at Florida State again.

Like it or not ‘Canes fans, this game is the first round of the playoffs to reach the Fiesta Bowl. Win, and you move on. Lose, and it is over. Virginia Tech or Ohio State better not even enter your minds now, because without a victory in New York, the ‘Canes will have little shot of making the top 2 of the BCS. Which leads to an interesting hypothetical, one I don't want to see occur, in fact, "upon further review" and in the interests of maintaining all balance in the ‘Canes Universe I am not even going to write it, but I am sure you know what I am talking about.

The recipe for a win is obvious. The ‘Canes just have to play their game. On offense, establish the run early, especially with Ken Dorsey's recent trend of starting slow. Success in the running game will open up passes down the middle and in the flats. Start Dorsey off with a deep pass or two to extend the defense, then pick away by giving the ball to your playmakers. Kellen Winslow Jr. must be more involved early than he was against Pitt. Roscoe Parrish has the opportunity to have his breakout game of the year, make sure he get touches in open field, and watch him gain massive yardage after the catch. And please, never, and I mean never run a double reverse using Dorsey as a lead blocker. Scary…

On defense, Coach Shannon needs to stick eight in the box early. Force Troy Nunes into third and long situations, and give Sean Taylor a gallon of "Stick-UM" and watch the interceptions start rolling in. Linebackers, especially Jonathan Vilma have to "wrap up" the opposing running back much better. There have been to many yards gained after first contact. Forget about the big hit, they will come, worry first about brining the guy down, and keeping him there.

All this being said, Miami is certainly more talented than the Orangemen, and if the ‘Canes play as we all know they are capable of, there is no one in the country that can stay with them. But for my sake, ‘Canes, please, I for one think that it is time for one of those old fashioned dominating performances that leave no doubt, from the first minute of the first quarter to the very last minute of the fourth quarter, that the best team on the field resides in Coral Gables, Florida.

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