Miami’s speed kills the Huskers

Dec 31, 2001 10:52 PM

Maybe you should ask Troy State whether Miami or Nebraska winds up winning the Rose Bowl and the BCS version of the national championship.

The Trojans played Nebraska in the second game of the season and lost in Lincoln, 42-14. Troy State visited Miami in Game 5 and fell, 38-7. There’s not much to choose from by those scores.

Miami, the nation’s top-ranked team, is anywhere from an 8½ to 9 point favorite against the No. 2 Cornhuskers. Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the game at 10, so Miami backers should be delighted to see the money come in on Nebraska.

If the unbeaten Hurricanes are to cover the number Jan. 3 in Pasadena, a disturbing pattern must be reversed. Miami, 6-5 against the spread, is working on its third straight time for alternating between consecutive covers and non-covers.

The Canes failed to cover in their Âí­final regular season game against Virginia Tech, winning 26-24 as a 12-point road favorite. The pattern, if followed, would result in Miami failing to cover the number against the Huskers.

But many people don’t subscribe to patterns, trends, horoscopes, tarot cards or coin flips. Game statistics suggest that Nebraska will have a tough time staying with a focused Hurricanes machine. Miami is 6-3 ATS on natural turf, led by a defense that has allowed seven points or less in eight of its 11 games.

The Canes offensive line is the team’s strength. The smallest of the seven up front measures 6'-2", 294 pounds. The largest is 6'-9", 335. This group has made life easy for QB Ken Dorsey (2,667 yds, 23 TDs), who has been sacked just three times in 21 starts over two years.

Offensively, Miami is well-balanced with Clinton Portis (1,200 yards, 5.5 per carry) the leading ballcarrier. Fullback Najeh Davenport is out with a foot injury, but Frank Gore (562 yards, 9.1 per carry) could become more of a factor. Wide receiver Ethenic Sands (26 rec., 385 yds) has been suspended for a violation of team rules, but again Miami is deep at that position. Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey and Keith Beard combined for 102 catches and 1,710 receiving yards.

The Hurricanes have won all five road games this season, highlighted by covers at Penn State (33-7 as a 12½-point favorite) and at Florida State (49-27 as a 7½-point favorite).

Miami posted three shutouts, including a 59-0 blowout of Bowl-bound Syracuse. The Canes also demolished Holiday Bowl representative Washington, 65-7.

The Hurricanes over the past three seasons have not been a team to wear down or be bothered by long periods of idleness. Miami is 6-0 in the second half of the season and 20-1 over the last three years. The Canes were 2-0 after bye weeks this season and 2-0 in January games during the past three years.

Miami has also excelled against teams with winning records, posting a 5-0 mark this year and 15-3 since 1999.

Maybe the most compelling reason to like Miami is that Nebraska allowed 63 points in losing to Colorado. The most points Miami yielded was 27 in defeating the Seminoles.