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3 posts from September 3, 2013

September 03, 2013

Canes crack Top 25 for first time under Golden, Linder earns ACC honor and Bush looks iffy for UF

Cracking the Top 25 USA Today Coaches poll might not mean a whole lot to Miami Hurricanes players, but it does count for something in the Al Golden era.

It's the first time Miami is ranked under his leadership.

You might not remember this, but it took Randy Shannon a little less time (10th week of his second season) to crack the Top 25. Golden obviously had a lot more on his plate than Shannon did with the NCAA probe dangling overhead from the start.

Miami fell out of the AP Top 25 under Shannon after just one week by losing to Georgia Tech 41-23 on the road. The following season, Miami began the season unranked, but opened with a 38-34 win over Florida State to get into the Top 25 poll. Then the Canes beat 14th-ranked Georgia Tech 33-17 and climbed all the way up into the Top 10 (No. 9) before losing 31-7 at Virginia Tech the following week. Those 2009 Hurricanes, however, finished 9-4 and remained in the Top 25 poll the rest of the season.

If Miami loses to Florida Saturday, the Canes would likely slip out of the poll. Golden, 2-3 against his first five ranked opponents (Shannon was too to start his career), gets the Gators (9th in USA Today, 12th in AP) this week.

Opportunity for a signature win? Absolutely. If you think about it, Miami really hasn't had one yet under Golden. The 17-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes they beat in 2011 finished 6-7. The 22nd-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets finished 8-5. Beating these Gators would definitely elevate Golden and Miami's status, show recruits the program really is on an upward climb. 

"It's obviously a big game, but the biggest thing for us is to focus on what we can control," Golden said when asked if this game might serve as a benchmark. "Everything else that surrounds it, we have no impact on."

BUSH STILL FEELING DISCOMFORT IN GROIN

Sophomore safety Deon Bush started six games for Miami last season as a true freshman. We still aren't sure if and when he'll start another.

Bush, who had sports hernia surgery this summer, told me he still feels discomfort and hasn't been completely cleared yet to play in a game even though he's wearing a green "full-go" jersey and practicing.

"I'm getting there. I'm working each day to improve, working with the trainer. The trainer is doing a great job," Bush said.

When will you be ready?

"When I'm able to go out there and perform at a good level," he said. "I don't want to go out there in the game if I'm not 100 percent healthy."

Do you expect to be back this season? Could you redshirt?

"That's not part of the plan," Bush said. "I definitely should [be back]."

> Quarterback Stephen Morris earned this week's quote of the week. Told Miami had just missed out on making it into the AP Top 25, Morris said: "I could give two you know whats about it. My focus is I have to get the locker room ready … what we have to do on Saturday."

> Hurricanes right guard Brandon Linder was named ACC co-Offensive Lineman of the Week by the league office Tuesday. Linder shared the honor with Clemson sophomore center Ryan Norton.

It’s Linder’s second ACC weekly honor. He named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week on Nov. 15, 2010, as a freshman. Linder is the first Miami Hurricane offensive lineman to earn an ACC weekly honor since Nov. 7, 2011, when center Tyler Horn was named Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week. The Hurricanes ran for over 300 yards against FAU.

TUESDAY'S VIDEOS

AP football poll out: UM out of Top 25 by one spot. Canes are ranked 26th, But UM tied for 24th in coaches' poll

The Hurricanes are just out of the Associated Press Top 25 this week, with 127 points to USC's 135.

I thought they'd squeak in.

However, the Canes are tied for 24th with TCU in coaches' poll.

Either way, if Miami beats the Gators, who dropped today from No. 10 to No. 12 (FSU is now No. 10), the Hurricanes will be in the poll -- and maybe (probably?) in the Top 20 AP.

Do you think, in the long run, that it's better for UM to go into this game unranked?

Or does it not matter one bit?

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

Associated Press football rankings out today at noon. Will Miami Hurricanes be in top 25?

The first in-season AP rankings will be released around noon today.

The Hurricanes (1-0) have a decent shot of squeaking into the Top 25, which would make Saturday's game against the current No. 10 (before the new rankings come out today) Florida (1-0) a battle between two ranked teams. If UM should then beat the Gators, they'd definitely be entrenched (for at least a couple weeks) in the rankings, likely among the Top 20.

The Hurricanes were unranked in the 2013 preseason AP poll, meaning they were not in the Top 25.

The last time UM was ranked was heading into the Virginia Tech game in late November 2010. The Canes were ranked 24th by the AP going into that game and 21st by the coaches. But they lost to Virginia Tech and fell out of the rankings, and haven't been back.

However, the Canes did earn 85 points in the recent preseason AP poll, good for what would be No. 29 in the poll. Ahead of them by one point was No. 28 Virginia Tech.

Miami finished 27th in the preseason Coaches’ poll, which also will be released today.

Since 1997, no team in the BCS era has won the national title without being ranked in the preseason AP poll.

The lowest-ranked team to win it all was No. 22 Auburn in 2010.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN