MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – The 8th ranked Miami Hurricanes (5-0, 3-0 ACC) will look to stay unbeaten when they host the surging Syracuse Orange (4-3, 2-1 ACC).
This will be the first meeting between these two teams since the first term of the George W. Bush administration. Miami beat Syracuse 17-10 back in November of 2003, when both teams were still in the Big East. Nearly fourteen years later, they meet again as rivals in a different conference.
The Hurricanes will look to stay atop the Coastal Division table, while Syracuse tries to stay competitive in the Atlantic side. They sit third in their division behind 4-0 NC State and 4-1 Clemson.
The Orange have won two-straight ACC games, including a thrilling 27-24 upset win at home over second ranked Clemson on October 13th.
Miami, meanwhile, has lived up to their “Cardiac Canes” nickname by winning in consecutive weeks on dramatic, game-winning drives.
In both contests, redshirt junior receiver Darrell Langham provided the most memorable play. On October 7th at Florida State, Langham caught the 23 yard game-winning touchdown from quarterback Malik Rosier with just six seconds on the game clock.
A week later, home against Georgia Tech, Langham made a juggling catch on a tipped pass for 28 yards on fourth and ten to help set up the game-winning field goal. Miami head coach Mark Richt called the catch a “minor miracle.”
Langham was named ACC Co-Receiver of the Week after the Georgia Tech win, in which he caught five passes for 100 yards.
Despite performing two miracles in an eight-day span, Langham is staying humble.
“I’m just in the right spot at that right time,” Langham said Tuesday, when asked if he’s the emergency go-to target. Richt said Langham was not the best target on that play as he was clearly double covered, but Malik Rosier “believes in him.”
Miami’s next opponent will not be lacking in self belief.
In their stunning victory over Clemson, Orange quarterback Eric Dungey accounted for 339 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. He’s thrown for 12 touchdowns on the season and run for 8 more. His 8 rushing touchdowns rank him sixth among quarterbacks nationally.
Dungey runs the Syracuse offense at a breakneck pace. The Orange rank second in America, running 87.8 offensive plays per game.
“They’re a team that plays with their hair on fire,” Mark Richt said. “They play with such tempo offensively, the number one goal [for Miami’s defense] is just getting lined up. Can you just get lined up quick enough to try and defend, and then, can you defend?”
Few teams have defended better than the Hurricanes have in 2017. Miami is 20th in points allowed at 18.6 per game. Miami is third nationally in tackles for loss (8.6 per game) and sixth in sacks (3.4 per game). Last week, Miami held Georgia Tech to just 281 total yards.
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz hopes his aggressive group can be aided by the South Florida weather. Humidity will reach 81 percent with temperatures expected in the mid-80’s.
“I’m sure that’ll be a question in the back of their minds, is how will they handle being the fastest offense in the country over the course of the entire game with the heat and humidity down here,” said Diaz. “I think that’s an unknown.”
On offense, Miami has been balanced all season long, averaging 277.4 yards per game through the air and 196.4 on the ground.
Sophomore running back Travis Homer made his first start last week (with Mark Walton out for the season with a broken ankle) and rushed for an impressive 170 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Homer also caught a touchdown pass.
Junior quarterback Malik Rosier has thrown 12 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions on the season, ranking fifth in the ACC in passing efficiency. Rosier, a dual threat, has scored 2 rushing touchdowns.
Langham has been clutch as of late, but senior Braxton Berrios has been Miami’s top receiver and most consistent offensive player this season. Through five games, Berrios already has career highs in catches with 24, yards with 326, and touchdowns with 5.
Syracuse’s top receiver this season has been senior Steve Ishmael. The South Florida native out of North Miami Beach High has already caught 62 passes for 802 yards and 4 touchdowns. He’ll have several family members in attendance on game day.
Syracuse will be looking to defeat top 10 opponents in consecutive weeks for the first time in program history.
Miami is looking for a 4-0 start in conference play for the first time since entering the ACC in 2004.
Kickoff for Miami-Syracuse is set for 3:30 PM on Saturday, October 21st from Hard Rock Stadium. You can listen to the game on 560 WQAM.