Nachos and salsa on hold

Brett Romberg doesn't hold back on many occasions. So it was of little surprise that the University of Miami's senior center could not resist before last week's game at Syracuse. "Its hard not to think about it," said Romberg. "I can practically smell the nachos and salsa."

With the top-ranked Hurricanes (11-0, 6-0) one victory away from making reservations to Tempe, Arizona and playing in the national championship Fiesta Bowl Jan. 3 against Ohio State, Romberg seems to be the only player on the defending national champions squad taking a peek into the future- at least publicly.

To a man the Hurricanes- which have won 33 straight games- know that a win Saturday in the Orange Bowl against the Virginia Tech Hokies (9-3, 3-3) would stamp a trip to the national title contest for the second consecutive season and 10th time since 1984. And there is also the slight possibility that even with a defeat to the Hokies the Hurricanes could still end up playing for the national championship.

Should Miami lose to Virginia Tech the result of the SEC Championship game between BCS No. 3 Georgia and Arkansas may not matter if the Hurricanes remain ahead of the Bulldogs in the BCS and polls. If the Hurricanes remain No. 2 then they would still face the Buckeyes.

But regardless of Romberg's sentiments the Hurricanes want to assure everybody they are not looking beyond this Saturday. Forget about leaving it in the hands of the computers and pollsters.

"It's going to take a lot of preparation this week- both physically and mentally," said UM sophomore safety Sean Taylor, who is third on the team with 63 tackles. "We're going to have to get ready to play 60 minutes of football. I know one thing ‘Virginia Tech isn't going to come in here and hand us anything. There going to make us earn everything we get.'

Miami coach Larry Coker agrees whole-heartedly.

"Now its down to one game," said Miami coach Larry Coker. "I told our team on Sunday that the adrenaline will definitely be flowing a little more because this is exactly where they wanted to be. And we're going up against a well-prepared and well-coached team in Virginia Tech."

And scratch the thought of complacency at this point in the season.

Coker added that the level of preparation by his coaches and players is a major factor in why the Hurricanes have been immune to the weekly pressures of maintaining their winning streak. The Hurricanes won't fear the magnitude of Saturday's game, according to Coker.

"Obviously Virginia Tech isn't playing for a championship but anytime you go up against a Frank Beamer team you have to be ready for anything," said Coker. "Our kids will be at home, the crowd will be charged up and they've been involved in that kind of environment plenty of times. They will be ready."

Despite acknowledging that the urge of looking ahead is difficult to ignore Romberg said that just the thought of losing a game is enough to remain focused on the Hokies. Romberg has been the starting center for the Hurricanes since 2000- the same season that the Hurricanes started their current winning streak.

"It's all been smooth sailing since I've been here," said Romberg. "I'm not used to losing a game and having a sour Saturday night. And hopefully this Saturday will be more of the same."

Given Virginia Tech's tendency in Beamer's tenure to keep games close to the end with solid special teams and defensive play, Coker is hoping for a strong effort from UM senior punter Freddie Capshaw, sophomore running back Willis McGahee and the entire Canes defense.

Last year, the Hokies pulled off a blocked punt- a Beamer specialty since coming to the school- and returned it for a touchdown to come within 26-24 of the Hurricanes. midway through the fourth quarter in Blacksburg. If not for a failed two-point conversion on the following play the outcome of the game could have been different. Capshaw, who entered this season with an average of 41.6 yards per punt, has already had three punts blocked. Capshaw had only two punts blocked in three years before the start of the season.

Although he makes it a point in practice each day, Coker will be paying close attention to Capshaw this week. Coker, along with the coaching staff, knows how critical the timing for a punter can be. Coker has stressed getting the snap to Capshaw and the punt off in under 2.1 seconds.

"Frank always has a play or two in which he'll come after the punter," said Coker.

WILFORK STATUS: Coker said that sophomore defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (strained calf) is a ‘little sore' and will have his practice time guarded. But Coker added that Wilfork has assured him he will play against the Hokies.

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