Two years ago, late on a Saturday afternoon in Atlanta, the Miami Hurricanes pulled off one of their more improbable wins of recent memory.
After pulling away from the Georgia Tech yellow Jackets with an early 19-0 lead, the Jackets came back and routed Miami, scoring the next 36 points. Then the Hurricanes scored the next 17 to tie the game, capped off by Mike James’s two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
In overtime, Miami pulled off a thrilling goal-line stand before giving the ball back to James, who ended the game on one final 25-yard run; 42-36 in overtime was the final that day.
Now the Canes are taking the midnight train to Georgia for the first time since that win with history on their side; historic and present.
Historically, the Canes have won their last five meetings with the Yellow Jackets, while presently Miami outfought undefeated Duke in a tense defensive battle in the rain.
This week, Miami once again faces the task of trying to beat a 4-0 team, and although last year they were able to rebound from down 17-7 in Sun Life to beat GTech, this year Paul Johnson has a wild card.
Unlike recent seasons, the Jackets now not only have the traditional triple-option running quarterback, but Justin Thomas can also throw. He and Canes quarterback Brad Kaaya are fourth and fifth in the ACC, and is only 82 yards behind Duke Johnson on the ACC rushing leaderboard, one of two quarterbacks in the top-five, the other being Boston College’s Tyler Murphy.
Most of Miami’s fan base has to be California dreamin’ with Brad Kaaya. Even though his stats weren’t as glamorous as the Arkansas State and Nebraska games, his confidence and poise as a field general showed in a 22-10 win over Duke, specifically with the Herb Waters touchdown.
Facing rain with the wind blowing at him, Kaaya showed the timing and patience necessary to finally find an open Waters in the last inches of the endzone. Oh, and he was about to be sacked and, with a ball that slick, might’ve even lost the ball.
Standing in a neck-high swamp of criticism from a Canes fan base not getting any satisfaction from a porous defense, defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio couldn’t have pulled a Houdini at a more opportune time.
With Duke quarterback Anthoyn Boone and RB’s Josh Snead, Shaquille Powell and Shaun Wilson all very capable at running the football, Miami’s defense only allowed 85 yards after a nightmare rendezvous with Nebraska’s own personal Jim Brown, Ameer Abdullah.
The southern climate will be a little cooler on Saturday; daytime temperatures are predicted at 64 degrees, and will probably be chillier for a 7:30 kickoff on ESPN2. You can also listen on WVUM 90.5 FM.