ACC Football 2013 Payback Games: Miami

Last Season's 41-40 Loss to Virginia in the Final Seconds is a Game Miami Would Prefer to Forget

Last Season’s 41-40 Loss to Virginia in the Final Seconds is a Game Miami Would Prefer to Forget

Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2012. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2013.

As part of our 2013 college football season preview, we’ll be running through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.

Team: Miami Hurricanes

Opponent: Virginia Cavaliers

Last Year: Loss, 41-40 at Virginia

This Year: November 23 vs. Virginia

At 5-4, and 4-2 in a down Coastal Division, Miami was actually thinking about playing in the ACC Championship Game for the first time. No, this wasn’t the best ‘Canes team the ACC had seen, but sometimes it’s more about the luck of the draw. After beating Virginia Tech the week before, Miami was in the driver’s seat and with a victory over lowly UVa, would’ve been a near-lock to head to Charlotte. But then they allowed a late 10-point lead to evaporate — the final strike coming with just six seconds remaining on the clock — and that was it. Coastal hopes dashed, it set in motion another self-imposed bowl ban for Miami (hopefully the last one). Perhaps if they’d won this game, we’d have seen a different outcome there.

Setting the stage for the dramatic finish: a back-and-forth game featuring 900 yards of total offense had seemingly given way to the Hurricanes at around the 11-minute mark in the fourth quarter. Up 38-28 following a long touchdown strike from Stephen Morris to Phillip Dorsett, Miami’s beleaguered defense just needed to hang in there for a little bit longer — and they almost did. It took Virginia around five minutes to score a touchdown to make it 38-35, but then an intentional grounding penalty ended up rewarding Miami with a safety with just four minutes to go, making it 40-35. Four minutes and 13 seconds later, UVa quarterback Michael Rocco would complete his out-of-nowhere master class (29/37, 300 yards, four TDs), completing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jake McGee in the back of the endzone for the one-point lead. And yet somehow, Rocco was the quarterback basically run off campus…

Admittedly, it won’t be nearly as difficult for Miami to stop Virginia this time around, as the team is without a proven quarterback and has question marks all over. The ‘Canes on the other hand, should have one of the ACC’s most potent offenses and a hopefully improved defense to help minimize damage against the pass. Virginia didn’t throw the ball all that well in 2012, and yet, they were able to light up Miami for 388 yards through the air. The run game, on the other hand, wasn’t “stopped” by the Hurricanes, so much as it just became unnecessary with the team throwing it so well. If the U can stop the rush, that should be enough to end Virginia’s chances right there. It’s not a unique formula — chances are most teams will look at the Hoos in a similar fashion this season — but Miami can’t afford to look past them like they did last year either. Suddenly being talked about as Coastal favorites, beating UVa late this year could mean the difference between a potential BCS shot and the Music City Bowl.

Previously: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Maryland

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