MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For the first time this season, the University of Miami Hurricanes will play a game before a home crowd at Sun Life Stadium. But it’s not going to matter much if the Hurricanes’ defense doesn’t come ready to play.
Last weekend, Miami traveled to Manhattan, Kansas and was destroyed by the Kansas State Wildcats, 52-13. Nothing went right for Miami on defense as K-State was able to do anything and everything it wanted against the once vaunted Canes.
Miami returns home this weekend to play Bethune-Cookman of the Football Championship Subdivision. It’s the final game before the Canes head back into the thick of ACC play. UM is 1-0 in the ACC after a season-opening victory over Boston College.
“Feels like forever since we started training camp,” Miami coach Al Golden said. “It’s exciting to come home. I know the kids are excited about it.”
Miami’s problems have largely been defensive this season. The Canes are giving up 42 points per game and have surrendered more than 1,000 yards of total offense to its opponents. Perhaps more troubling is that UM is allowing opponents to convert on third-down 56 percent of the time and 86 percent in the red zone.
Typically, a FCS school would be a pushover for most major teams, but both sides know this game could be anything but typical. Miami beat Bethune-Cookman 45-14 last year, but gave up 422 yards to the Wildcats and trailed for a long stretch of the first half.
B-C has won eight straight games dating back to last October and has already rallied from deficits of 14-0 and 21-0 this season, doing so by scoring points in bunches – 38 straight against Alabama State, then 27 straight last week against South Carolina State.
B-C is expected to bring a traveling party to the game of roughly 10 buses, seven for the school’s band alone. Still, the diminished expectations for UM have likely hurt ticket sales that already struggle at Sun Life Stadium.
Tickets on the secondary market are going for as low as $4 per ticket, according to StubHub.com.
Still, Golden said the team had one mantra this week, not to let the Kansas State thrashing turn into a series of losses.
“We’ve improved so much this week in practice,” Golden said. “We’ve had spirited practices. We’ve been resilient. Now we have to carry it into a game with a team that’s played with a lot of confidence.”
Since Golden took over last season, the Hurricanes are 7-7.
Miami and Bethune-Cookman will kick off on Saturday at noon and the game can be seen on ESPN3.com.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)