Netizen 24 AUS: Forget Miami being 'back,' these Canes are looking to make their own history

Forget Miami being 'back,' these Canes are looking to make their own history Forget Miami being 'back,' these Canes are look...

Forget Miami being 'back,' these Canes are looking to make their own history

Forget Miami being 'back,' these Canes are looking to make their own history

With alumni in attendance and the stands packed, Miami proved it can compete once again

  • @dennisdoddcbs
  • • 5 min read

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- All it lacked was a Michael Irvin high-step or Jerome Brown sack da nce. It could have used a smidgeon of Randall "Thrill" Hill running up the tunnel while running up the score on Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Maybe color analyst and former Cane Lamar Thomas threatening to "go down the elevator to get in that thing" during an all-out brawl with FIU.

You know, all the stuff that made Miami … Miami in the glory years. So when inevitably the question is asked whether the No. 7 Canes are "back" after a 41-8 bludgeoning of No. 3 Notre Dame, let's settle on this convenient truth for now.

These Hurricanes are writing their own history.

"Convicts vs. Catholics?" All-American legend Ed Reed said amid the celebration on the floor of Hard Rock Stadium. "Come on, man. That's old news. You don't know these kids."

So what better way than to reintroduce the Canes to a nation skeptical these past 15 years with just enough swag, gum-flapping and stylin' to rekindle old memories?

"We were on edge," linebacker Shaq Quarterman said. "I've never seen our players like that before. Just all the disrespect we got, how we're overlooked constantly."

To be fair, there have been a series of frustrating restarts after the 2001 national championship. But in the biggest game played in these parts in 15 years, Miami played its best game of the season. For now, that's enough.

As for the next step, well, when the high from Saturday night wears off, we all know the goal.

"We gotta get a ring first," Quarterman said.

A national championship is always the standard here, but it's fun to be able to watch Miami get close again.

Mark Richt played the role of Jimmy Johnson and Brian Kelly the role of Gerry Faust on Saturday. You see, this rivalry really got going 32 years ago when Johnson mercilessly ran it up on the outgoing Faust, 58-7.

The Irish haven't forg otten, but they'll want to wipe Saturday's result from their memory. That Notre Dame team deserved pity. This one was 8-1, physical, dominating, its lone loss by one point to (previously) No. 1 Georgia. The 41 points were the second-most scored against Notre Dame in the 27-game series history will hurt beyond an early Sunday morning arrival back in South Bend, Indiana.

The Irish are all but officially out of the College Football Playoff race. It's hard to imagine a top four that includes a Notre Dame that we're not sure even got off the bus. A Notre Dame team trying to wake up the echoes will wake up Sunday with a sizable headache. Meanwhile, Miami players will gather around the HD screen on Tuesday night to see how close they are to the top four in the College Football Playoff Rankings.

But that would even be missing the point from Saturday night. They're good enough to dream about being in the Football Four because they could have beaten N otre Dame by 40.

"I saw the [Notre Dame] tape," continued Reed, his 2001 national championship ring dangling from his neck. "I've been here all the week. Go check my interviews. I said we were going to dominate, and we did. I'm always here. That spirit of us is always here."

Yeah, but it was gone for a long time when Larry Coker ran out of the players recruited by Butch Davis. It petered out when Randy Shannon couldn't resurrect his alma mater and Al Golden never really came close.

In less than two seasons, Mark Richt has gotten the Canes to 9-0 while preserving a lot of that swagger from the past. That is, if you believe the audacity of going for it on fourth and 9 from Notre Dame's 36 a few minutes into the second half. Malik Rosier threw a right sideline dart to Lawrence Cager, 28 yards to the Notre Dame 8, like it was a scrimmage. Which, as time went on, it basically appeared to be.

"This is, to me, natur al order restored," said defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who's dad was once Miami mayor. "This is how a Saturday night in Miami should be."

No neck soreness was reported, although there could have been some on the sideline. That whole Turnover Chain thing is due to become its own national phenomenon. This was Miami's fourth straight game causing four turnovers. It has 24 on the season.

That's a lot of bling to be worn. By halftime, it looked like the 5.5-pound, 10-karat chunk of Cuban link gold was being worn so often it could have displaced some vertebrae.

Three interceptions -- two thrown by Irish starter Brandon Wimbush -- led directly to 17 points. Backup Ian Book threw one so perfectly into the hands of Miami's Trajan Bandy that the field opened up for 65 glorious yards for a pick six that made it 27-0 at halftime.

"People have a different way of celebrating a turnover," Richt said. "We just have the best one."

You were nobody Saturday unless you had some version of the chain on your person. It has been slapped on T-shirts. Alex Rodriguez wore a broken version during his appearance on "College GameDay."

"We got behind the chains," said Kelly, not realizing his words double meaning.

It could have been worse. Much worse. Irish eyes should be welling with tears knowing the nation's No. 3 team didn't deserve to be on the same field with the Canes. Who knew Wimbush -- coming off a career game against Wake Forest -- was that bad a thrower?

What we know for sure is that Miami is playing for the ACC title (against Clemson) for the first time since it joined the league in 2004.

The Canes have to be judged in a different way now. They haven't been 9-0 since 2002 when a 34-game winning streak was ended by Ohio State in the BCS Championship Game.

These Canes have won 14 in a row, all since a l ast-second loss at Notre Dame last Oct. 29.

OK, throw in those four wins by eight points or less this season. Lucky? Perhaps, but in 2002 -- that last year Miami mattered -- Ohio State won half its games that way. They called them the Luckeyes. A national championship was the result.

"These kids have something that nobody has around college football right now," Reed added. "Miami's trendy, man. We set trends."

Yes, it does. Again. Somewhere in stadium heaven, the old Orange Bowl was laughing its girders off. Hard Rock Stadium isn't quite as quirky as the old barn, but it was full, which has been a challenge for Miami games since way before Howard Schnellenberger.

"They look like they're supposed to look -- like Miami Hurricanes," Reed said. "It ain't about looking like us. We weren't about the '80s or '90s, we were about showing you how we were as men. That's what they're showing you, how they are as men."

On Saturday night, those men were the toast of South Florida.

"The standard," Quarterman reminded, "is still the ring."

Dennis Dodd CBS Sports Senior Writer follow

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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