Georgia Tech vs. Miami: Hard-Fought Win Shows Hurricanes Are for Real

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2013

Oct 5, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes defensive back Kacy Rodgers (22) reacts during the first quarter against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

It may not have been the No. 14 Miami Hurricanes' most high-profile victory of the season, but their win over Georgia Tech on Saturday is a sign that this team is for real.

The Yellow Jackets were up, 17-7, after the first quarter and tied at 17-17 going into halftime. Then the Hurricanes woke up in the second half, outscoring Georgia Tech 28-13 to pick up the 45-30 victory. Miami was tested and responded in a big way.

Al Golden must have been quoting William Shakespeare with this postgame nugget, via the Miami athletics' Twitter account:

Defense had been Miami's calling card coming into the game, but it was nowhere to be seen for most of Saturday. It had a hard time, especially early on, handling the Yellow Jackets rushing attack. They finished with 335 yards rushing.

The Miami offense stepped up in a big way, though.

Stephen Morris had his best performance of the season, completing 17 of 22 passes for 324 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Duke Johnson added 184 yards on the ground.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 5: Duke Johnson #8 of the Miami Hurricanes runs with the ball against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on October 5, 2013 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

They've perhaps gotten over one of their biggest problems in recent years.

As Bleacher Report's Miami expert Chris Bello quite eloquently pointed out, conference play has long been a stumbling block for the 'Canes. How many seasons have they looked great to start the season, only to fall to a lesser foe once the ACC/Big East play started?

It's become a trend with the team. In the past, Georgia Tech is the kind of opponent Miami would be losing to. When the going got tough, the 'Canes would crumble.

Instead of coming out flat in the second half, Golden made the right adjustments and had his team ready to attack the third quarter and get out in front. Once Miami got the lead, it didn't give it up.

This is the kind of victory that should really get Hurricanes fans excited, and it's arguably a bigger victory than the upset of then-No. 12 Florida Gators.

While that win was unquestionably a huge result, in order for Miami to win the ACC, it will have to learn how to handle the weight of expectations. Sure you were able to beat a Top 15 team when you were the big underdog. Now prove your worth and win the games you're expected to win.

Plus, the best teams are the ones that find ways to win even when they're not at their best. Miami wasn't its best Saturday, yet it still got the victory.

It's still much too early to anoint the Hurricanes as national title contenders. They still have that matchup with the Florida State Seminoles looming on Nov. 2. That will be the real litmus test as to whether this is a team capable of going all the way.

For the time being, 'Canes fans should be able to content themselves with what looks to be a genuine revival down in Coral Gables.