Season wrap: Miami

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
8:00
AM ET
Miami scored a number of notable wins off the field this season, from surviving the NCAA cloud that finally went away to hanging on to coach Al Golden despite overtures from Penn State. As for on the field? The Hurricanes came awfully close to being "back," riding a 7-0 start to a No. 7 ranking before suffering a three-game losing streak. Getting routed in the Russell Athletic Bowl after a two-year bowl ban left a sour taste in their mouths, but the program still brings back plenty of talent, another strong recruiting class (No. 6 nationally, according to ESPN) and a breath of fresh air away from the NCAA spotlight. Now, 2014 will be about taking the next step for a program that was on the cusp in 2013.

Offensive MVP: RB Duke Johnson. Sure, the sophomore missed Miami's final five games with a broken right ankle, but that also explains in large part why the offense struggled so much during that 2-3 stretch to close the season. Johnson had rushed for 920 yards on just 145 carries (6.3 average) before leaving Miami's Nov. 2 loss at Florida State. He had 77 yards on four catches as well. Miami averaged 36.4 points per contest with Johnson in the lineup, but dipped to 29.8 without him.

Defensive MVP: LB Denzel Perryman. The junior earned first-team all-conference honors (coaches and media) after tallying a team-best 108 total tackles, which tied for sixth in the ACC. He had five tackles for loss, including 1.5 sacks, to go with two quarterback hurries, a forced fumble, three breakups and three passes defended. Next to Golden, getting Perryman to return for 2014 is the best news the Hurricanes have received since the end of the season.

Best moment: The moment dimmed with time, but there is no mistaking how big a win over rival Florida was for this program in Year 3 under Golden. The Gators were ranked No. 12 at the time, fresh off an 11-2 season, and the Hurricanes' defense made a statement with a 21-16 victory that helped trigger their 7-0 start. Florida going 4-8 did not end up helping matters, but you can bet that many prep prospects in the state noticed what happened on Sept. 7 at Sun Life Stadium.

Worst moment: For a program that had missed out on the postseason thanks to self-imposed bans in the previous two years, Miami disappointed tremendously in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Miami native and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had a career day in his collegiate finale -- and in coach Charlie Strong's Louisville finale -- doing whatever he wanted to the Hurricanes' defense in the Cardinals' 36-9 win. These squads will meet again in 2014, as Louisville joins the ACC. Bridgewater will be gone, but Miami needs to be ready regardless of who quarterbacks the Cardinals next season.

Matt Fortuna | email

College Football

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ACC SCOREBOARD

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