Not so after Rosier and Travis Homer got Miami’s slumping running game back again, which allowed the Hurricanes to wear out a exhausted Virginia defense and bleed any hope for a Cavaliers’ upset dry.
Asked this week about the chain, a 36-inch string of 14-karat gold that is the brain child of Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and recognizes any of his players who comes up with a defensive turnover, Mendenhall was more subdued.
The Cavaliers picked up momentum when senior safety Quin Blanding intercepted a Malik Rosier pass on third-and-9 from the Miami 43 that was deflected by cornerback Juan Thornhill.
Miami coach Mark Richt said he wasn’t aware of Elko’s tirade before the game, so it couldn’t have been used to add fire to the Hurricanes’ emotions.
Mississippi 28, Arkansas 21: Nick Fitzgerald threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Deddrick Thomas with 17 seconds remaining, and No. 17 Mississippi State survived a lackluster performance and four fumbles. However that changes if Miami makes the playoffs, those kids get an even earlier experience practicing on the scout team much like Jalen Hurts did for Alabama.
But when UVA defensive players watch Rosier on film, they see a quarterback who finds ways to make plays at key times. Travis Homer recovered a muffed Virginia punt. The Virginia defense yields only 180 yards through the air and gets after the quarterback with 24 sacks thus far. Now the Hurricanes will have to wait and wonder if the committee will penalize Miami for a slow start.
The Miami coach is also aware that Virginia likely will not be intimidated coming into Miami Gardens because the Cavaliers have had “our number” over the years, Richt said. Two plays later Benkert connected with Daniel Hamm 26 yards for a touchdown for Benkert’s fourth touchdown pass of the game.
Virginia managed only 91 yards the remainder of the game. “We had momentum and a couple of plays here and there they took it back”. A Michael Badgley field goal gave Miami the lead after a poor Virginia punt gave the Hurricanes the ball at the UVA 35 yard line.
Malik Rosier’s mother eventually told Miami coaches about the situation after he said he was having trouble concentrating on his prep for the marquee game.
But when Benkert made his only real mistake of the game, a 30-yard interception return by JaQuan Johnson that let the Hurricanes bust out their turnover chain, Miami found its rhythm again.
The Hurricanes were outgained 439-358 but forced three turnovers, giving them 19 in their last five games.
For many teams Miami is an opponent that in the future you might just want to avoid.
Rosier had another good all-around game.
-Ryan Fulse, Wagner, ran for 192 yards and three TDs in a 28-15 win over Sacred Heart.
Hornibrook finished 9 of 19 for 143 yards, but bounced back from the turnover early in the third quarter with some of his best throws of the season. He was exceptional in the second half after being held to six yards on five carries before halftime.
Richt hasn’t been surprised that Mendenhall has guided Virginia to bowl eligibility in year two of his regime in Charlottesville, taking over a program that had experienced only one winning season since 2007. Coley had a team-high 63 receptions, nine for touchdowns.
Johnson, a junior, now leads the Hurricanes with 75 tackles and four interceptions. With a win, Miami would wrap up its first undefeated home regular season since 2002 and go 7-0 at home for the first time since 1988. His program was steaming toward its first road victory over a top-five team in 14 chances and its first win over a top-three team since toppling No. 2 Florida State in 1995. Considering the adversity that Miami has faced this season with injuries and Hurricane Irma the ranking solidifies the job done by Mark Richt and his staff.
The 9-1 Tigers have won three straight and are pegged as a +800 bet to repeat as national champions, but are just 2-4-1 ATS over their past seven games and can not afford to suffer a letdown against the overmatched Bulldogs if they are remain among the CFP Top 4. They have lost their last two games.