Sunday, November 10, 2002

Miami crushes Vols

By Richard Rosenblatt
The Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Give Miami a challenge, and the Hurricanes usually come through.

Dropped to second in the AP media poll and third in the BCS standings after three uninspiring victories, No. 2 Miami returned to winning easy with a 26-3 victory over Tennessee on Saturday.

"We really wanted to get rolling and play our best football," Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey said.

The Hurricanes (9-0) picked the perfect time for their best game of the season as Willis McGahee ran for 154 yards and a touchdown and Dorsey passed for 245 yards and another score.

With No. 1 Oklahoma (8-1) losing to Texas A&M earlier Saturday, Miami and No. 3 Ohio State (11-0) - 10-6 winners over Purdue - are likely to be the top two teams in the new Bowl Championship Series standings on Monday.

The final BCS standings on Dec. 8 determine which teams play in the Fiesta Bowl for the BCS national championship.

The Hurricanes, who matched the seventh-longest winning streak among major schools with their 31st in a row, are also likely to regain the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll after a one-week absence.

"We don't care about all that BCS stuff, all we care about is repeating as national champions," said Miami tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who caught 5 passes for 67 yards, including an 11-yarder for a third-quarter TD.

"We are 31-0 since I've been here. We control our own destiny."

No. 20 Bowling Green also lost for the first time Saturday, leaving Miami and Ohio State as the only major college unbeatens and the clear favorites to end up in the BCS title game in Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 3.

Coach Larry Coker talked to his players all week about regaining a championship edge after the 'Canes needed big fourth quarters to put away West Virginia and Rutgers in its last two games.

"They responded over a tough opponent," Coker said. "We don't play well when we're uptight. We played hard, fast and relaxed."

McGahee's TD came in the first quarter and Todd Sievers kicked four field goals as Miami scored on its first five possessions.

"I'm obviously very disappointed," Vols coach Phillip Fulmer said. "We played against a really good team. Defensively, we probably played well enough, but offensively we did nothing."

While the national title is the goal, neither Dorsey nor McGahee did anything to hurt their Heisman Trophy chances.

"McGahee has great speed," Vols defensive end Omari Hand said. "He's patient and waits for the hole to open. He's one of the best we've faced."

The Hurricanes' defense shut down Tennessee (5-4) after allowing a field goal on the first series of the game. The Vols managed 218 total yards - 74 on a run by Cedric Houston on the game's second play.

Once the crowd of 107,745 at Neyland Stadium had its one big cheer for the day, Miami took over. Sievers kicked first-half field goals of 37, 39, 44 and 25 yards, and McGahee's 1-yard TD run gave the 'Canes a 19-3 halftime lead.

After Dorsey's TD pass to Winslow, the Volunteers were unable to even put up a fight. Quarterback Casey Clausen reinjured his right foot and didn't play in the second half after completing just 5 of 14 passes for 63 yards. He was replaced by freshman James Banks and later C.J. Leak. Miami had seven sacks for the game.

The Vols got off to a rousing start, thanks to Houston's 74-yard run to the Miami 4. But the Hurricanes held, and Alex Walls kicked a 21-yard field for the Vols' only points.

Once Miami took possession, the game was as good as over. Drive after drive, the Hurricanes pushed aside the Vols, with McGahee ripping off big chunks of yardage and Dorsey hitting key passes to Andre Johnson and Winslow. Johnson had five catches for 105 yards.

Miami quickly tied it on Sievers' 37-yard field goal, which was set up by Jason Geathers' 52-yard kickoff return. Dorsey then hit passes of 12 and 14 yards to Winslow and Sievers kicked a 39-yard field goal to put the Hurricanes ahead 6-3 after the first quarter.

Miami then reverted to its early season form of putting away opponents early. Dorsey hit Johnson for 44 yards to the Vols 9, and McGahee scored for his school record-tying 17th touchdown of the season.

Two more field goals by Sievers followed, a 44-yarder after a 14-yard punt by Dustin Colquitt, and a 25-yarder at the end of an 82-yard drive that put Miami ahead 19-3. Sievers did miss once - a 38-yard attempt to end the half was wide left.

The Vols lost for the third time at home this season, the first time that has happened since 1988.

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