For the third consecutive game, the top ranked Hurricanes needed a fourth quarter rally to get the victory. However, on Saturday, a late surge was needed against a 1-8 Rutgers team, who actually led Miami 17-14 after three quarters.
The Hurricanes did not take the lead for good until Ken Dorsey completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson early in the fourth quarter. Dorsey also connected on a 1-yard TD pass to Kellen Winslow. Miami would score 14 more fourth quarter points to pull away with the victory.
“I don’t think we ever thought we were going to lose the football game,” head coach Larry Coker said.”
Although the ‘Canes did pull away, Rutgers did prove that they are improving under former UM defensive coordinator Greg Schiano.
Before playing Miami tough, the Scarlet Knights led Tennessee at halftime before losing and played Virginia Tech tough as well.
“Last year we couldn’t have hung with Virginia Tech and Tennessee and Miami,” said Schiano. “This year, we did. This year, we not only hung with them, but we had them worried.”
Despite the close game, Dorsey and the Hurricanes had another record setting day.
The victory extended Miami’s nation best win streak to 30, setting a school record.
The ‘Canes broke the record previously owned by the Dennis Erickson teams, who won 29 in a row from Oct. 27, 1990 until they were beaten by Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1993.
Dorsey, who struggled early in the game, came back after an injury to his non-throwing hand, to have a strong fourth quarter that resulted in two Big East records. The senior signal caller is now the all-time Big East leader with 78 touchdowns, breaking the record set by Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb (1995-98). Dorsey is also now the Big East’s leader in completions, breaking the mark held by West Virginia’s Marc Bulger.
McGahee tops 1,000
UM running back Willis McGahee’s 7-yard run with 10:50 remaining in the third quarter put the sophomore over 1,000 yards for the season. McGahee is the seventh tailback in UM history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
McGahee rushed for 187 yards against Rutgers, marking his sixth 100-yard game this season.
McGahee has rushed for 1,034 yards on the season, and with four regular season games left, he has a chance to break Edgerrin James’ UM single season record of 1,416 yards set in 1998. McGahee is also one shy of James’ UM record of 17 rushing touchdowns in a season.
Not so special teams
The special teams unit struggled again on Saturday, most notably on the punt team.
After Rutgers took a 10-7 lead with 4:04 left in the first half, Miami was forced to punt on its next possession. However, Freddie Capshaw never got the kick off, as Rutgers’ Jason Nugent went right through the middle and blocked the kick, which was picked up by Shawn Seabrooks for the Scarlet Knight touchdown.
The touchdown off a punt was the second one on the season given up by Miami, the first coming against Connecticut.
Capshaw also struggled with his other punts, as he averaged only 31.8 yards per punt.
Miami’s tough victory over a lackluster Rutgers team and Oklahoma’s victory over a ranked Colorado squad dropped Miami from the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll for the first time this season. Miami still stands atop the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll.
However, UM got some much needed help from their Big East foes in other Top 25 games. Boston College upset Notre Dame 14-7. Notre Dame was predicted to jump ahead of the ‘Canes in the BCS if they won. Pittsburgh defeated Virginia Tech as well. Other undefeated teams that lost were Georgia and NC State. Miami still trails Oklahoma in the BCS, but now is a virtual lock to finish among the BCS’s tops two teams if they go undefeated.
The Hurricanes had three interceptions after entering the game with only six on the season… Alfonso Marshall and Kelly Jennings both had their first career interceptions…Rutgers’ touchdown drive on the game’s opening possession marked the first time this season that an opponent has scored against Miami on the game’s first series…Saturday’s game was the first time Miami has trailed a game entering the fourth quarter since losing to Washington on Sept. 9, 2002.
You can reach Brian Poliakoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.