The least-respected unbeaten team in the top 10 — that’s the stigma the Miami Hurricanes carry at the moment.
Part of the problem is that Miami has struggled to win its three Atlantic Coast Conference games by an average of just 7.3 points. But a victory at No. 3 Florida State at 8 p.m. Saturday — by any margin — would surely earn Miami respect.
Canes coach Al Golden, though, said Sunday he is not worried about the “magnitude” of the FSU game.
“I plan on being here a long time and facing a lot of these games,” he said.
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According to Vegasinsider.com, FSU is favored by 21 points, a shocking number given Miami’s status as a top-10 team.
UM remained seventh in the BCS standings, and FSU fell to No. 3 as Oregon moved up to second.
Missouri’s double-overtime loss to South Carolina Saturday allowed the Canes the chance to move up one spot in the rankings. But Miami (7-0) stayed at No. 7 when it got jumped by once-beaten Stanford.
“Honestly, I have no idea what the rankings are,” Golden said. “I have no idea.”
Football fans, however, are aware of why Miami failed to move up after Missouri’s loss.
An inability to put away North Carolina (2-5) and Wake Forest (4-4) until the final minute the past two games has apparently fueled the notion that the Canes are not of the same caliber of Alabama, Oregon, FSU, Ohio State and Baylor — the unbeatens ranked ahead of them.
In contrast to Miami’s narrow escapes, Alabama, playing in what is considered the toughest conference in the nation, has outscored its five Southeastern Conference opponents by an average of 32 points.
The other unbeatens ahead of Miami have similar stories: Baylor has beaten its four Big 12 foes by an average of 37.5 points; FSU, five ACC foes, 34.8 points; Oregon, five Pac-12 foes, 31 points; and Ohio State, four Big Ten foes, 19 points.
Of those six unbeatens, only Miami has won a conference game by less than a touchdown, and the Canes have done it twice in a row.
Miami has also trailed by double digits in each of its three ACC games and, if the oddsmakers are right, it will happen again Saturday at FSU.
To the Canes’ credit, they have made winning halftime adjustments the past three weeks.
But Golden was asked Sunday why those alterations can’t be made in-game, given that Miami has trailed at the half the past couple weeks.
“I think we are adjusting during games,” Golden said. “Certainly, our defense settled down in the second quarter [Saturday]. They were on the field the whole first quarter. We scored 10 points in the second quarter, so we are making adjustments as the game goes on — no question.”
Wake Forest was 5 for 5 early Saturday on third-down conversions but finished just 8 of 16 in that category after Miami adjusted.
Golden credited the opposition for Miami’s early struggles.
“With success, we’re getting everyone’s best punch,” he said. “That was a mature and experienced team we played. It was a challenge for us.”
The challenge will only get steeper against FSU.
“We know how talented they are,” Golden said. “You can’t defend all those things all game.”
Leaders step up
Canes quarterback Stephen Morris said Saturday that his injured ankle is “getting better and better every week.”
Morris also had an interesting comment as it relates to who the team leaders are on the field.
“Shayon [Green] did a great job talking to the defensive guys,” Morris said of the senior defensive end, “and I did a great job talking to the offensive guys.”
• In injury news, Golden said he is hopeful safety Kacy Rodgers will return against FSU. He also said receiver Allen Hurns (hip) is fine.
• Among the positives for the Canes in the Wake game is the fact they did not turn the ball over, which had been a problem in previous weeks, and they improved to 7-0 for the first time since 2003.
• Tight end Clive Walford on his one-handed catch Saturday: “At first, I didn’t see it because the sun was in my eyes, so I just stuck my hand out.”
• Receiver Stacy Coley on the catch he made while lying on his back: “I knew I had to come down as soon as possible. I just fell on my back and kept my eyes on it.”
Added Golden on Coley’s play: “That was one for the ages.”
Coley, a freshman, already has three games in which he has had 100-plus all-purpose yards.
• Antonio Crawford’s interception Saturday was the first of his career, Tyrone Cornileus had his first career sack, and Asante Cleveland had his first two receptions of the year.
However, Cornelius missed a tackle on Dominique Gibson that became Wake’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter and would have cost Miami the game if not for its final rally.