Hard to think Canes won't run table

Today, the University of Miami football team stands a couple of victories from getting back to the national championship game and taking a crack at title No. 6 in school history.

Finish 12-0 and the Hurricanes can then start thinking about Ohio State and the Fiesta Bowl.

Standing in the way of a Hurricanes-Buckeyes title game match-up: a defenseless Syracuse and confused Virginia Tech. Don't know the odds of that happening, but I would make a wager it will -sorry Brett- even if the NCAA wants to come after this newspaper.

Even the Hurricanes who dozed off for 45 minutes in New Jersey earlier this month and were staggering inside the Orange Bowl last week are good enough to run the table with not much of a problem.

The streak will continue and Oklahoma, Iowa and Georgia will all see their national championships melt faster than you can say Miami. Translation: The Hurricanes will be sweeping through the saloons in Tempe, Arizona come the first week of January, 2003.

No question the Hurricanes have looked leaky at times this year and nowhere near the well oiled machine that blasted through the Rose Bowl and Nebraska last season.

But a Miami team running at 75 percent – never mind the holes in their defense- is more than enough to offset a Syracuse squad that would have trouble stopping Tom Arnold, John Salley, Chris Rose and DeMarco Farr from moving the ball.

The Orangemen have surrendered 500 yards or more of offense in their last three games and only a bag full of turnovers would save them from another blowout loss against the Hurricanes. Two of the top three leading tacklers for the Orangemen are defensive backs, telling the whole story. Syracuse can't stop the run, which isn't a very good thing if Willis McGahee is coming to two. McGahee is capable of a 200-yard rushing day against an undersized Syracuse defensive front.

Syracuse has the capabilities on offense to put up a few points against Miami. But to think they can they can outscore the Hurricanes might be a little much. This could be a case of Miami loading up their defensive front and protecting themselves from Syracuse's own running game. If the Orangemen can find holes in Miami's defense and allow quarterback Troy Nunes to execute some play action passes then things could get interesting. But the defense has to stop Miami at least a little.

"We won't win if we can't stop them," said Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni.

Stranger things have happened. But to think a 4-7 Syracuse team can right the ship before facing Miami is not likely. Aside from run away victories against Florida A&M and Florida, Miami has not really pasted anybody on their schedule this season. This could be the one.

After dispatching of the Orangemen, the Hurricanes will close out the regular season by hosting Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, Dec. 7. But what looked like a colossal confrontation just a month ago smells like just another Miami victory. After sporting one of the best defensive units in the nation through October, the Hokies, like Syracuse, has been victimized by their inability to stop the run. Virginia Tech still has the fortunes of a solid special teams unit and running game. But with the season on the line and in front of a packed OB don't think Miami will slip up one bit.

Hats off to the Buckeyes and coach Jim Tressel for conquering Michigan and reserving a spot in the Fiesta Bowl (opposite Miami, there I said it). But this notion that Ohio State will give Miami a hard time because they can run the ball and play above average defense is laughable. There is no doubt that the Buckeyes have done a terrific job of shutting teams down and moving the ball with running back Maurice Clarett. But its hard to figure a ball control team like OSU that loves milking the clock keeping pace with the high-powered Hurricanes.

How many times this season has Ohio State chewed up seven or eight minutes off the clock but ended up with a field goal instead of a touchdown. Compare that to the quick strike ability of the Hurricanes who have the ability to score quickly and can turn a close game into a laugher. With their season over, the Buckeyes will have an extra two weeks to prepare for the Hurricanes. But to what extent will the extremely conservative Tressel go to add any special wrinkles for the Hurricanes.

Ohio State just doesn't score enough. And their defense will be on the field for a good portion of the Fiesta Bowl. End result: bad news for the Buckeyes.

So the city of Miami should start flipping through their calendar to accommodate the University of Miami football team some time next January because there will be another victory parade.

The Hurricanes are just too good for the rest of the field, including Ohio State.

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