No. 8 Miami hosts Syracuse, seeking to extend perfect start
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Hard Rock Stadium doesn’t permit smoking in locker rooms.
Syracuse might hope to test that policy.
Victory cigars were part of the celebration at the Carrier Dome last week when Syracuse knocked off then-unbeaten and defending national champion Clemson. Another robust test awaits the Orange (4-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) on Saturday, when they head to steamy South Florida and resume a long-dormant rivalry with No. 8 Miami (5-0, 3-0).
“They have the athletes,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “We’re trying to get athletes like they have, and we’re playing at their place. It’s going to be a difficult, difficult game.”
Make no mistake, the Orange have the Hurricanes’ attention.
Miami’s night-before-game itinerary in the team hotel — home or away — includes some time after meetings for players to get together and relax, have some snacks and watch whatever matchups are being televised.
A week ago, that meant the Clemson-Syracuse game. If the Hurricanes didn’t know much about the Orange beforehand, they learned quickly after Syracuse stunned the nation and shook up the ACC’s Atlantic Division race with a 27-24 win.
“Our guys were watching it live and saw for themselves what was about to come up this weekend,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. “I didn’t have to really explain much of anything.”
Syracuse comes in with two of the nation’s top three receivers, in Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips — with a combined 118 catches between them this season. It’s a homecoming game for Ishmael, who hails from North Miami Beach.
Miami comes in after last-second wins in each of the last two weeks against Florida State and Georgia Tech. Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier is 6-0 in his career as a starter, and said he was approached on campus this week by an thrilled upperclassman who wanted to show his appreciation by getting him some food.
Given NCAA rules, Rosier — who will try to lead Miami to its first 4-0 ACC start — didn’t think that was a great idea.
“He said, ‘Wow, I can finally graduate happy as a senior,’” Rosier said. “I wanted to take it, but I told him, ‘I can’t. I might get in trouble.’”
Here’s some of what to know going into this game:
THE RIVALRY: The teams met 13 times in a 14-season span between 1990 and 2003, a run that ended — until now — because Miami joined the ACC and Syracuse didn’t until years later. Miami’s last conference title of any sort was the Big East crown in 2003, which the Hurricanes got in part because they rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit and beat Syracuse 17-10. Miami and Syracuse have had some unforgettable matchups, like in 1992 (a 16-10 Miami win where Syracuse was stopped at the 3-yard line as time expired) and 1998 (a 66-13 Syracuse win, Donovan McNabb’s home finale at the Carrier Dome).
CHASING HISTORY: Syracuse is trying to become the seventh unranked team to beat a pair of AP Top 10 teams in consecutive weeks. The Orange haven’t had a season where they beat a pair of Top 10 teams since 1959, a season where Syracuse won the national title.
INJURY WATCH: Miami may get WR Ahmmon Richards (hamstring) and LB Michael Pinckney (chest) back this week, since neither is even listed on the injury report, and RG Navaughn Donaldson (ankle) is probable. Richards has been a non-factor in Miami’s first five games after emerging as the Hurricanes’ breakout receiver a year ago. Syracuse won’t have CB Scoop Bradshaw (upper-body injury), who was hurt on special teams against Clemson.
POLL IMPLICATIONS: Miami is on pace to spend the entire season in the AP Top 25, something the Hurricanes haven’t done since 2005. Syracuse has not been ranked since the final balloting of the 2001 season, 254 polls ago. A total of 98 different schools have been in the Top 25 since Syracuse last appeared.
DUNGEY ROLLING: Syracuse QB Eric Dungey is up to 2,080 yards passing this season, and also leads the Orange with 386 rushing yards on 101 carries. He’s a true dual-threat, with eight rushing touchdowns already.
AP Sports Writer John Kekis in Syracuse, New York contributed.
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