University of Miami

Hurricanes football fans might be able to drive to this year’s bowl game

Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt with Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) on the field after the University of Miami defeats Duke at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Sat., Nov. 26, 2016
Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt with Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) on the field after the University of Miami defeats Duke at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Sat., Nov. 26, 2016 adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Miami Hurricanes have done everything possible in November to elevate their bowl status, so fans this year might actually be able to hop in a car and travel to a postseason game.

But then again, maybe not.

Despite the uncertainty of bowl season, one thing of which Canes fans can be confident: They likely won’t be headed to Shreveport, Louisiana, for the Camping World Independence Bowl; or to El Paso, Texas, again for the Sun Bowl.

Miami (8-4) has played itself into what is designated as a “Tier One” bowl, according to projections, possibly the TaxSlayer Bowl on Dec. 31 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville or the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, or even the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28 at Yankee Stadium in New York.

University of Miami head coach Mark Richt spoke to the media after the Hurricanes defeated the Duke University Blue Devils, 40-21.

The Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando is another, more remote possibility for UM. But Virginia Tech (9-3), should it lose to Clemson (11-1) in the ACC title game Saturday, is a more realistic ACC representative to match up against a Big 12 team — say, for example, West Virginia (9-2) or Oklahoma State (9-2) — in the Russell.

“Miami is still very much under consideration by our selection committee,” Florida Citrus Sports spokesman Matt Repchak said Monday afternoon.

Projections before this weekend’s conference championship games involve “a little bit of dart-throwing,” CBSSports.com senior writer and bowl guru Jerry Palm said Monday. “I really think the options for Miami are TaxSlayer or Belk.”

As of Monday, Palm had Miami meeting Arkansas (7-5) in the Belk.

“I think Pittsburgh (8-4) makes more sense for the Pinstripe because it’s closer than Miami,” Palm said.

The Belk and TaxSlayer would both select a Southeastern Conference opponent for the ACC team, with Tennessee (8-4), Georgia (7-5), Texas A&M (8-4), Florida (8-3), Arkansas and some think even South Carolina (6-6) possibilities.

The Pinstripe matches the ACC with a Big Ten team.

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya is noncommital on whether he will turn pro early and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

Note that although the Sun Bowl is Tier One, Miami played there last year, and the Atlantic Coast Conference ultimately works with the affiliated bowls to help get what they consider the best matchups for all involved.

On Monday, UM coach Mark Richt touched on UM’s bowl game during his weekly WQAM-560 radio show. No matter where the Canes go, Richt said, the goal is to win.

Miami’s last bowl victory came after the 2006 season against Nevada in the MPC Computers Bowl.

“Our main focus is going to be preparing to win the game,” Richt said. “I don’t mind talking about the future during bowl time. I told the team this [Sunday] at the team meeting [that] the bowl game is about finishing well but it’s also about the future.

“We want to have a great finish to help us in the future and we want to have a great finish for the guys that have worked so hard for us. Whoever is playing their last game, we want them to leave with a good taste in their mouth.”

ACSMA ALL-ACC

The Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association named its All-ACC football teams Monday, and no Miami players made the first-team offense or defense, with receiver Ahmmon Richards on the second-team offense and cornerback Corn Elder and punter Justin Vogel on the second-team defense.

The third-team offense included receiver Stacy Coley, guard Danny Isidora and tailback Mark Walton, with tight end David Njoku and Michael Badgley getting honorable mention.

Linebacker Shaq Quarterman and safety Rayshawn Jenkins got honorable mention defense.

UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was not pleased.

“13th in nation in Yards/Play, 14th in scoring D & only 1 guy on 1st/2nd/3rd team All-ACC? Only 2 Hnr Ment?” Diaz posted on Twitter. “Come on people, pay attention.”

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