Editor’s note: This is the first of two parts recapping Miami’s season as the Hurricanes and Notre Dame prepare for Friday’s Sun Bowl.
For obvious reasons, this year’s Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, turned out to be a match made in rivalry heaven. Notre Dame and Miami needed each other after 7-5 regular seasons. Meeting up on New Year’s Eve provided instant motivation for both programs to wrap up strange 2010 seasons and begin looking forward to next year.
The Hurricanes never managed to win more than two games in a row during a tumultuous campaign. Here’s a recap of Miami’s first six games, which included four contests.
Sept. 2, Florida A&M
Miami, which entered its season opener ranked 13th in the country, broke the seal on 2010 with a 45-0 drubbing of Florida A&M. Quarterback Jacory Harris completed 12 of 15 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns before sitting out the second half. It was Miami’s first shutout since 2006. Receiver Leonard Hankerson caught two of those TD passes and finished with 115 yards.
Sept. 11, at No.2 Ohio State
The last time the teams had met was in the national championship game at the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, with Ohio State claiming a controversial victory in double-overtime. Harris came into Columbus, Ohio, pretty high on himself after pounding a cupcake in Week 1. But at the Horseshoe, he was picked off four times in a 36-24 loss to the well-rounded Buckeyes.
Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor rushed for more than 100 yards and a touchdown and added a passing score. Devin Barclay tied an OSU record with five field goals. Trailing 26-17 at the half, Miami took drove to the OSU 6-yard line to open the third quarter. But on third-and-goal, Harris'
pass was intercepted by defensive end Cameron Heyward, who was finally brought down 80 yards later, sealing the victory.
Sept. 23, at Pittsburgh
The Hurricanes, which slipped to No. 19, stomped Pitt for a 31-3 victory. Harris led quick TD drives to start both halves and was intercepted twice on touch passes similar to the picks thrown against Ohio State the previous week. But it didn’t matter; tailback Damien Berry rushed for more than 80 yards and a TD and the Miami defense made Pitt QB Tino Sunseri’s day completely miserable. Sunseri, in just his third start, was yanked after completing 8 of 15 passes for 61 yards.
The Hurricanes stymied Dion Lewis, the nation’s leading returning rusher, who ended with 41 yards.
Oct. 2, at Clemson
Miami traveled to Clemson with a No. 16 national ranking and plenty of confidence in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener. Jacory Harris threw four TD passes in the first half -- three to Hankerson -- and cornerback Brandon Harris preserved the 30-21 victory with a stop on fourth down to end Clemson’s comeback with 8:20 to play. Ahead 27-21, the Hurricanes put the game out of reach with a 68-yard drive and a 29-yard field goal by Matt Bosher.
Oct. 9, No. 23 Florida State
The Seminoles’ Jermaine Thomas rushed for a career-high three touchdowns, and Chris Thompson added the longest run Miami has ever allowed with a 90-yard score as Florida State upset the 13th-ranked Hurricanes, 45-17. It was the second-most points Florida State scored in the series. FSU’s Christian Ponder threw for 173 yards and two touchdowns to help push the Seminoles to their best league start (3-0) since 2005.
Oct. 16, at Duke
Miami forced the Blue Devils into seven turnovers to bounce back from the embarrassing loss the previous week. Vaughn Telemaque picked off two passes and defensive tackle Micanor Regis returned another for a 22-yard TD. Berry rushed for 111 yards and a third-quarter score that gave the Hurricanes a 28-10 cushion.