Miami making a point to not overlook Wake Forest
Game time: Noon, Saturday
TV: ESPN U
The University of Miami (6-0, 2-0 ACC) will play its first game in three years without the uncertainty of an NCAA ruling hanging over its head.
The Hurricanes, currently riding an eight-game winning streak dating back to last season, have a potential top-10 road showdown between rival Florida State waiting in the wings.
Could this be a trap game for seventh-ranked Miami as it looks ahead, or will the team play loose thanks to the NCAA saga being behind it?
After escaping with a comeback victory on the road against North Carolina to remain unbeaten, the Hurricanes climbed in the polls, earning their highest ranking since Nov. 13, 2005.
Wake Forest (4-3, 2-2) opened ACC play 0-2 before winning consecutive games against Atlantic Division rivals NC State and Maryland.
Storylines to watch
— Neither senior quarterback Stephen Morris nor sophomore running back Duke Johnson appear on the injury report.
Morris has battled through an ankle injury most of the season, while Johnson exited last week’s game against North Carolina as a precaution when he took a blow to the head on a block.
— Though the defense has improved, it struggled to contain North Carolina tight end Ebron, who finished with eight catches for 199 yards and a touchdown.
The Tar Heels threw for 395 yards. Wake Forest senior quarterback Tanner Price’s go-to target, redshirt senior Michael Campanaro, already has 55 catches this season.
— Turnovers kill drives.
In the UNC game, Morris was intercepted four times. Johnson has had trouble holding onto the football. On the season, UM has turned it over 14 times, while creating 18. The Demon Deacons have forced 16 takeaways as opposed to 11 given away.
— Junior wide receiver Rashawn Scott (broken collarbone) returns after missing time since the season opener.
Can he fill the void left by junior Phillip Dorsett, who sustained a partial MCL tear? Scott had two catches for 28 yards before his injury against FAU. Dorsett was third on the team with 13 catches, 272 yards and two touchdowns.
— Through six games, the Hurricanes have recorded 20 sacks by 13 players, third in the Atlantic Coast Conference and seventh in the nation. In 2012, they had just 13 sacks by seven players.
— Miami is 7-1 when Johnson accumulates 200 or more all-purpose yards.
— Thirteen of Miami’s 35 scoring drives have needed five plays or fewer.
— Wake Forest has lost the past six meetings in the series (3-7 overall), including all four in the ACC. The last contest came in 2009. The previous two were won by a total of seven points and were comeback victories.
— The Hurricanes are 2-3 since 2007 in the week before the Florida State game.
Quote of the week
“Unfortunately for the Deacs I think they’re wide awake right now. I’ve got a feeling we’ll be taking their best shot.”
— Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe on the ACC football coaches teleconference
Miami can’t overlook the Demon Deacons. This team and program has faced enough over the past few years that it shouldn’t be an issue on Saturday.
Prior to the NCAA news, head coach Al Golden spoke on his weekly radio spot Monday night about maintaining focus.
“The adversity has helped us prepare for prosperity, and there hasn’t been many days when we haven’t moved ahead,” Golden said. “It hadn’t gotten better. We just have to continue to block everything out, do our job, execute our role in the game, prepare and have fun doing it. Enjoy the journey. That’s what’s fun about this team. You can push them and they’ll enjoy the journey.”
“How far we’ve grown as a team and a unit. We have a lot of great leaders on this team, a lot of senior leadership as well. That’s something we were missing the past couple of years. Now that we have it we can pull out games like that.”
If the Hurricanes follow through and Florida State takes care of NC State, it will be the ultimate showdown Nov. 2 in Tallahassee.