No. 12 Miami dreading Colorado
CORAL GABLES, Fla. ” The schedule-makers were not kind to the Miami Hurricanes.
Season-opening road games at Florida State and Clemson, two of college football’s toughest haunts, provided immediate tests. And for Saturday’s home opener, No. 12 Miami meets an unbeaten Colorado team that oddsmakers view as a two-touchdown underdog, yet the Hurricanes see as another daunting challenge.
“It’s almost kind of turned into an NFL-type schedule where you can’t catch your breath,” Hurricanes coach Larry Coker said. “You play the Oakland Raiders, you play the Carolina Panthers and now you’ve got the New England Patriots coming to town. … We’re going to play an outstanding Colorado team.”
The Buffaloes aren’t quite the two-time defending Super Bowl champions, but they do come into the Orange Bowl with a 2-0 record, plenty of momentum and the chance to presumably win their way back into the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since Sept. 1, 2003.
“A lot of pride, a lot of tradition,” Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt said when asked what comes to mind when he thinks of Miami. “All you have to do is watch Monday night football on any given week.”
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Colorado has had two weeks to rest, heal and prepare for Miami (1-1), which needed three overtimes to beat Clemson last weekend. And while Colorado coach Gary Barnett acknowledges that his players are excited about playing Miami, but he is leery of the notion that his team could make a big statement by winning.
“Maybe somebody’s making it that way. I wouldn’t see it that way,” said Barnett, whose club beat Colorado State and New Mexico State to open the year. “It’s a good opportunity for us to go down and find out where we are. … It’s either one win or one loss, and I think you’ve got to keep that in perspective.”
Miami’s offense is off to an up-and-down start. Kyle Wright has been sacked 14 times in his first two starts, yet has managed to throw for 384 yards and complete nearly 60 percent of his passes.
The run-blocking, though, has been sensational; Tyrone Moss has two 100-yard outings in as many starts, and is coming off a career-best three-touchdown game against Clemson.
“They don’t have a lot of different plays, now,” Barnett said. “They’re just going to run the power play at you in the inside zone, a little toss here and there. But for the most part, they’re just going to turn around, hand it off, lead with the fullback on the end, pull the guard around and tell you to stop them.”
That could play into Colorado’s strength. The Buffs are yielding only 1.8 yards per carry, albeit that figure comes after playing two teams not exactly in Miami’s class. Still, the Hurricanes insist they’re not taking the reigning Big 12 North champions lightly.
“The fan base and people down here probably don’t know much about Colorado, but I think they’re not a team to underestimate,” Wright said. “They opened the season with a rivalry, came out with a great win against Colorado State. We definitely have a lot of respect for them.”
This game completes a home-and-home series between the schools ” one that started in 1993, when Miami went to Boulder and prevailed 35-29 in a game marred by a first-half brawl that led to 12 ejections.
For a variety of reasons, including Miami’s probation in the mid-1990s, the return date couldn’t be scheduled until now. Yet the timing couldn’t be better for the Buffaloes, who want to return to the ranks of the nation’s elite ” and a win at the Orange Bowl could do the trick.
“Obviously, this is a huge national game,” Coker said. “I mean, it’s a very important game for us and a very important game for them. We need to do a good job on our staff to make sure our players understand that. This is, I believe, a more mature team and I think they will understand that.”
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