|Miami still has plenty of hope in ACC title chase|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 30 October 2007 10:04|
- They got some time off to relax and heal.
- Boston College rallied to beat Virginia Tech.
- North Carolina State knocked off Virginia.
Simply put, the bye week couldn't have gone better for the Hurricanes, who are now only one game in the loss column behind the Cavaliers (7-2, 4-1) and Hokies (6-2, 3-1) in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division.
And although this seemed unlikely a few weeks ago, Miami now controls its fate in the league title race.
``It's everything we were hoping for,'' offensive lineman Derrick Morse said. ``We got a little help and now we're back in the driver's seat.''
That might be overstating things a tiny bit. But there's no arguing that Miami's chances improved a bunch over the weekend.
The way the Hurricanes see it, this represents a second chance at the season.
``It's nice to catch that second chance, because we have made mistakes,'' offensive lineman Jason Fox said. ``But it was just fortunate that we get it again and we still get a chance to prove what we're all about, to get it done here and to win the conference.''
The Hurricanes snapped a two-game losing streak by rallying to win at Florida State 37-29 on Oct. 20. Then came the bye week, when players had plenty of time to huddle around televisions and watch Boston College stun Virginia Tech last Thursday night and the Wolfpack upset then-ranked Virginia this past Saturday.
Had either of those games gone the other way, Miami would be two games back in the loss column and needing a miracle.
Now, all the Hurricanes need are wins - and with four of those, they'll be in the ACC title matchup for the first time, playing for a guaranteed spot in a Bowl Championship Series game.
Hard to believe, especially after a home loss to Georgia Tech and falling behind 27-0 in a stunning defeat at North Carolina.
``We kind of control our own destiny now,'' Miami linebacker Colin McCarthy said. ``It's great for us. Our mind-set is real positive right now and we'll just take it game-by-game, practice-by-practice, trying to get sharper.''
Miami (5-3, 2-2) has four ACC games left, starting Saturday at home against N.C. State (3-5, 1-3).
From there, the schedule doesn't get easy.
Virginia comes to Miami on Nov. 10, when the Hurricanes play their final home game in the Orange Bowl after seven decades calling that historic building home. And then Miami's regular season ends with two road trips - at Virginia Tech (Nov. 17) and at Boston College (Nov. 24).
That would seem to be shaping up as a brutally tough finish, which might be part of the reason Miami coach Randy Shannon isn't exactly willing to think ahead.
``This team understands that it can't take any team lightly,'' Shannon said. ``We have to stay focused. We have to come out and prepare and do the things we need to get done.''
When the Hurricanes were off to a 4-1 start, some of them - defensive back Randy Phillips included - said they were looking forward to two more victories and then heading to Tallahassee with a 6-1 record.
They went to Tallahassee with a 4-3 mark, learning the hard way that looking too far ahead can be problematic. So for this week, the Hurricanes don't want to hear about anything other than the challenge N.C. State presents.
``Earlier in the year, we probably tried to look forward, look down the schedule with so many great teams coming up,'' Phillips said. ``But now that we're here, every game counts. And if we drop one, our dreams could be shattered.''