By Zev Mines
As the Miami Hurricanes jubilantly walked off the Orange Bowl field Saturday night having avenged last season’s lone loss, vindication was replaced by the promise of something much sweeter – win one more and you’ll be smelling roses.
The top-ranked Hurricanes moved themselves that much closer to a Rose Bowl appearance and a shot at the national title with a commanding 65-7 victory over the No. 12 Washington Huskies.
Miami’s final regular season game is this Saturday at Virginia Tech.
“We’re smelling (Blacksburg, Va.), it’s not about the roses,” running back Clinton Portis said. “We have to go out and beat Virginia Tech before we can smell the roses.”
In their regular season finale at the OB, Miami looked like a team destined for the championship. The Hurricanes played almost flawless football, reaching a season high in points and interceptions (six).
All the talk leading up to the game focused on revenge – beating a Washington team that destroyed Miami’s national title hopes last season. But on a weekend of wild upsets that included losses by Nebraska and Oklahoma – two out of the top four teams in the Bowl Championship Series – there were other things to consider as well.
“The most motivation we have is we saw Nebraska lose to Colorado and that shows you can lose to anyone,” quarterback Ken Dorsey said. “That’s all the motivation you need.”
That certainly showed from the start, as sophomore Jonathan Vilma intercepted Washington quarterback Cody Pickett on the third play of the game. Two plays later, Portis ran seven yards for the first of his three touchdowns.
It seemed as if Washington would even the score on their next possession, but the Huskies were stalled at the one-yard line when Pickett tripped on a fourth down-and-goal.
From that point on the Hurricanes rolled, outscoring the Huskies 30-0 in the second quarter alone. Dorsey worked with a short field all game long, as Miami’s average starting field position was the Washington 49-yard line.
“We had a great game plan,” said Dorsey, who finished 14-of-21 for 189 yards and three touchdowns. “Anytime your defense is playing that well, you are going to be on the winning end of a lot of those games.”
The defense helped Miami score 35 points off of seven Washington turnovers. Over the last five games, the Hurricanes’ “D” has allowed a total of 17 points, while the offense has wracked up 225 points.
Miami will bring those numbers, the nation’s longest winning streak (20 games) and national title hopes into Blacksburg for the regular season finale.
“Washington is a very talented football team, with great players like our team, but this was just our night,” said UM coach Larry Coker. “It’s down now to a one-game season. It’s a must-win in Blacksburg.”