ATLANTA-In the weeks leading up to the Dec. 30 Peach Bowl, No. 10 Miami’s matchup with No. 9 Louisiana State was hyped as the best of the non-Bowl Championship Series postseason. The Tigers certainly lived up to the pre-game hysteria, but the Hurricanes failed to hold up their end of the bargain.
LSU (11-2) torched Miami’s (9-3) vaunted defense for 468 yards of total offense and completely stifled the Hurricanes with a swarming defense in a 40-3 blowout in front of 65,620 fans at the Georgia Dome.
The Tigers’ sophomore back-up quarterback Matt Flynn performed admirably in place of injured starter JaMarcus Russell, going 13-for-22 for 196 yards and two touchdowns to capture game MVP honors. Running Back Joseph Addai shredded UM’s defense with 138 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown.
Miami’s frustration boiled over after time expired, when a wild melee broke out between several players in the tunnel, resulting in Andrew Bain and Khalil Jones being knocked unconscious. The actual cause of the fracas remains unclear, but Head Coach Larry Coker did not wait to find out the full story before apologizing.
“I don’t know all the details of what happened after the game,” Coker said. “But certainly as a university and football program, we don’t condone any of type of activities such as that. It detracts from a great bowl game and what the spirit of college football is all about.”
Athletic Director Paul Dee was compelled to make a statement after the post-game scuffle.
“On behalf of the University of Miami, I want to congratulate LSU on a fine win,” Dee said. “Second, any event, regardless of the cause, is inappropriate. We don’t condone it; don’t want to be involved in it. We’re sorry.”
The game itself was about as visually appealing to Hurricane fans as the brawl in the tunnel. Miami managed a mere 153 yards of offense and six first downs in the loss. Quarterback Kyle Wright struggled in defeat, throwing for 100 yards on 10-for-21 passing. The redshirt sophomore failed to convert a fourth-and-one from the LSU 35-yard line with the game tied at 3-3 early in the second quarter, igniting a 37-point flurry by the Tigers.
“I don’t think we played the entire day,” Coker said. “We didn’t match their emotion. We didn’t match their energy as the game progressed.”
Flynn broke the tie with a 51-yard strike over the middle to a wide-open Craig Davis, who burned Randy Phillips on a deep post for a 10-3 Tiger advantage. Chris Jackson added a 47-yard field goal minutes later to make the score 13-3.
After a Miami three-and-out, Flynn hooked up with Dwayne Bowe for gains of 32 and 11 yards to set up a four-yard swing pass to Addai for a touchdown and 20-3 lead just before halftime.
Looking for some momentum to start the second half, Wright could only muster three incompletions, and LSU responded by scoring on its next four possessions: a six-yard touchdown run by Addai, a one-yard dive by fullback Jacob Hester and two field goals.
Eric Kalis can be contacted at email@example.com.