"He is a big element that we have been missing.," said Coach Walt Harris on the return of Miree after an eight-game absence.
The Panthers took care of business against the Owls, holding off Temple's upset bid in the fourth quarter. After pulling out to a 21-3 halftime lead, the Panthers, who ran for a season-high 253 yards, saw the Owls cut the deficit to 21-16 with 7:14 left in the game. But the Panthers responded with a 76-yard touchdown drive, scoring a clinching touchdown on a 3-yard pass to WR Larry Fitzgerald. The pass extended Fitzgerald's NCAA-record streak of games with a touchdown reception to 17.
Another new starter for the Panthers was senior FS Corey Humphries, who made his first start of the season and led the Panthers with 11 tackles. He also was credited with breaking up one pass.
One worrisome statistic for the game was that the Panthers were only 3-for-11 on third-down conversions. Against Miami, opponents have converted only 31 of 147 third downs (21 percent) thus far this season.
A victory over the Hurricanes would give the Panthers, 8-3 overall and 5-1 in the Big East, at least a share of the conference lead. They also would get the BCS bowl berth that goes with it if they finish more than five spots ahead of West Virginia in the final BCS standings. The Mountaineers own the head-to-head victory but could lose out in the tiebreaker because of their four losses. That's assuming the Mountaineers beat Temple in their season finale.
"To play for the Big East championship is huge," Harris said. "We've been on a long road, climbing back. We're just thankful this is our opportunity."