Free of uncertainty, Canes host Wake Forest Saturday

The moment of truth came and went. After nearly three years of investigation and deliberation, the Hurricanes are free to resume their pursuit of a championship as no further bowl bans were imposed on the program.

The University of Miami football team will relinquish nine scholarships over a three-year period while the men’s basketball team will surrender one scholarship per year for the duration of the established probation period. It is effective now through Oct. 21, 2016.

Throughout the whole saga, the program and the university have maintained indomitable support from the Canes family.

And Saturday’s home game should be no exception.

The No. 7 Hurricanes (6-0, 2-0 ACC) host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3, 2-2 ACC) for a noon kickoff at Sun Life Stadium.

Miami’s athletic marketing staff has prepared a video to air during the game asking students to stay until the end of the game.

The Canes sometimes fall victim to a chronic Miami fan issue: Leaving early. Miami seeks to reverse that trend despite hot weather, heavy traffic and long commutes.

“Students have an enormous impact on the game, and if we can keep that same energy to the very end, that would be great,” UM athletic director Blake James said.

“That said, we have a tremendous student response already, so credit them for even being there,” James continued, noting that Sun Life Stadium’s distance from campus could be a barrier to some. “A lot of schools would kill for the student turnout we have, percentage wise.”

The BCS rankings released this past Sunday reflect Miami’s highest ranking since 2005.

With much attention already looking ahead to next weekend’s ACC showdown in Tallahassee, the Canes remain focused on Wake Forest.

“We take it one game at a time, we don’t really worry about who’s behind the team we’re going to play,” sophomore running back Duke Johnson said. “You can’t worry about who you are playing next. That’s how good teams lose. Wake Forest is not a team that you can overlook by any chance, just because we’re going against Florida State next week.”

Nikita Whitlock, a versatile Wake Forest nose tackle, will be one obstacle on Saturday.

“How can I say this … [Whitlock] can make or break the game by himself, he’s that type of a player,” Johnson said. “He can get around guards, he can penetrate the offensive line so that the quarterback has to throw the ball fast and get it out of his hands. He’s got his guys around him to help him out, make big plays, so he doesn’t have to do it all by himself. They’re a complete team.”

Miami, coming off a road win last week at North Carolina, will rely on the passing game of senior Stephen Morris, one of six FBS quarterbacks averaging more than 16 yards per completion this season.