Miami is 5-0 and will be ranked somewhere north of its previous No. 11 when new polls come out Sunday afternoon. The Hurricanes top the ACC Coastal and are in position to stay there all year, setting up a championship meeting with Clemson or maybe NC State.
They’re in that spot because of two dramatic wins in a row.
Miami’s latest suspense: a 25-24 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Georgia Tech took the lead with 4:27 left in the first quarter. It kept the lead for the next 49:23, until Michael Badgley’s 24-yard field goal went through to win it for Miami. The kick was the decisive score, but the game was really won four plays earlier.
Malik Rosier’s pass to Darrell Langham got tipped and, on a fourth-and-10 from Tech’s 43-yard line, fell into Langham’s arms as he went to the ground at the 15.
Langham Miracle pt. 2 pic.twitter.com/TuaHDcNvhL— GiancarGOAT Stanton (@TheCanesHype) October 15, 2017
Rosier’s throw should not have been catchable. Tech had two defensive backs on the scene: a corner running stride-for-stride with Langham and a safety converging from the middle of the field. A torrential downpour that had blanketed Hard Rock Stadium had mostly subsided, but the field (and therefore the ball) was still slick. It’s deeply silly that Langham was able to catch that football.
But he did, and Miami’s win probability went from zero, if he’d dropped it, to pretty close to 100 percent.
That followed high drama at Florida State a week beforehand.
Miami won that game, 24-20. Langham was at the center of the madness then, too, catching a 23-yard touchdown from Rosier with six seconds left.
Just like against Tech, Miami won that game because Langham made a catch he wasn’t supposed to make. He was pretty well blanketed by FSU cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, one of the best corners in the country. McFadden is not supposed to lose 50/50 balls, just like two Tech DBs aren’t supposed to lose out on a deep lob to one Miami receiver. Langham’s individual effort (and a decent throw) won that game, too.
Miami’s had close calls, but don’t take that for weakness.
Both FSU and Georgia Tech are good, no matter their records. Miami needed just about every second to beat both, but these are both quality wins.
Miami outplayed both of them by more than the final margins suggest, anyway. The Canes averaged about 2 yards better per play than Tech and a yard better than FSU. There wasn’t a single point scored off a turnover in either game.
If anything was fluky, it was the Yellow Jackets scoring a mind-bending touchdown on a botched Miami onside kick Saturday:
Miami entered the weekend ranked No. 11 in S&P+, suggesting that its real caliber is almost exactly the same as the pollsters have said. Both may like Miami more in time.
This team just lost running back Mark Walton for the season, with an ankle injury. His replacement, Travis Homer, ran 20 times for 170 yards and a touchdown on Saturday. There’s depth on this roster and clearly some resilience, too.
The Canes are in great position, aside from just being unbeaten.
Their remaining schedule:
- Syracuse at home
- North Carolina on the road
- Virginia Tech at home
- Notre Dame at home
- Virginia at home
- Pitt on the road
Miami doesn’t play Clemson in the regular season. It doesn’t play Lamar Jackson. Those Virginia Tech and Notre Dame games are hard, and beating Syracuse is clearly not just a formality. But Miami is likely to be favored in every game it plays the rest of the way. Miami’s likely to finish at least 9-2, but 10-1 and 11-0 are both possible. (Miami had a non-conference game against Arkansas State canceled due to Hurricane Irma.)
There’s only one other ACC Coastal team without a loss in conference. That’s Virginia, which is a shocking 5-1 and 2-0. Miami’s firmly in the driver’s seat.
And all of this is possible because of those two great plays by Langham.
All Playoff contenders need great individual efforts from time to time.