Miami-Oklahoma: Hurricanes Regain Some Swagger 'Sooner' Than Expected

Steve SmithSenior Writer IOctober 4, 2009

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - OCTOBER 03: Wide receiver Travis Benjamin #3 of the Miami Hurricanes celebrates his touchdown with teammates Joel Figueroa #61 and Orlando Franklin #74 against the Oklahoma Sooners at Land Shark Stadium on October 3, 2009 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Miami defeated Oklahoma 21-20. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

It wasn’t the impressive offensive showing the Miami Hurricanes had shown in upsetting the Florida State Seminoles in their first game of the year, 38-34 (you can read my recap of that game here).

It also wasn’t the thrashing they put on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in their next game, 33-17 (that recap is here).

However, it most certainly wasn’t the dismal performance they showed the nation in getting a mudhole stomped in their ass against the Virginia Tech Hokies last week, 31-7, either (recap here).

What last night’s exciting 21-20 win over the Oklahoma Sooners was came down to one thing; a win. When all is said and done this season, that W will be all that matters.

As the legendary NFL coach, Vince Lombardi once asked, “If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?”

Miami QB Jacory Harris and the Hurricanes had been the darlings of the media through the first three weeks of the season, until they laid an egg in the mud in Blacksburg.

That loss, after they’d so convincingly destroyed the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, gave everyone pause in their talk that the U, as the University of Miami is known, was back.

Many, including myself, felt the enthusiasm that was being displayed by some ‘Canes fans needed to be tempered by some realistic expectations.

Prior to this season, Miami wasn’t even predicted to win the ACC Coastal Division, let alone an ACC Championship, or (gasp) a possible BCS Bowl or National Title.

And while those goals are still rather lofty, they’re now a distinct possibility in the minds of those who’ve taken a good hard look at Miami’s remaining schedule and analyzed it compared to that of all the other teams ahead of them in the polls.

Miami is now ranked 11th in the nation after their upset of the vaunted Oklahoma Sooners, who had come into yesterday’s contest as the No. 8-ranked team in the nation compared to Miami’s pregame No. 17 ranking.

While there is still quite a ways to go before the ‘Canes can solidify a possible shot at a BCS Bowl and especially a shot at the National Championship, it must be noted that their record so far, coupled with the way they’ve played, should have convinced anyone who knows football that they have a good shot at winning the rest of their remaining games this year.

This will put them squarely in the mix for a possible BCS Bowl, and depending on a few factors, might even allow them to sneak into the title hunt with their one loss.

All of this depends on Miami continuing to play as they did yesterday, with a poise and calm that’s needed from any championship-caliber club.

Randy Shannon has apparently righted the ship after the Virginia Tech loss (although some might even argue the ship was fine to begin with and the loss to the Hokies was simply a factor of the weather that day), and all seems right with the Hurricanes.

Miami had regained some of the swagger of old after having avenged four years of losses to the Yellow Jackets two weeks ago with the whupping they put on the Georgia Tech team, but seemed to quickly lose it again in the mud at Blacksburg last weekend.

It appears they’ve regained a measure of it “Sooner” than anyone thought possible by upsetting the Oklahoma squad in Land Shark Stadium last night in front of thousands of rowdy ‘Canes fans.

That swagger wasn’t quickly regained in the game, though, as Oklahoma jumped out to a 10-0 lead early in the game off of two interceptions thrown by Miami QB Jacory Harris.

That would normally be a harbinger of a Sooner victory, as Oklahoma had won 40 straight games when scoring at least the games first 10 points. The last time they’d lost a game in this situation was prior to Nov. 9, 2002.

Harris, and the ‘Canes, shook off the interceptions, however, and decided it was time to end that historic run. Laughing about them on the sidelines, Jacory showed that nothing the Sooners could do was going to rattle him or his boys this time.

Instead of panicking, the Hurricanes simply buckled down on defense, handed the ball off to Javarris James (who rumbled for 150 yards), and allowed Harris, going 19 of 28 with 205 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, to orchestrate a comeback win that will go down as one of the classics against the Oklahoma squad.

The last time the Sooners had played in Land Shark Stadium, they suffered a bitter defeat to the Florida Gators in the championship game.

The last time they’d faced the Hurricanes was two years ago, where the only bitterness was felt by the Hurricanes faithful, as they watched their team be humiliated, 51-13 in Norman, Oklahoma. Randy Shannon was determined not to let that happen this year.

Instead, it was Bob Stoops who walked off the field with the loss hanging over his head. Asked about what made the difference in the game, Stoops remarked, “They made the plays down the stretch that made the difference. We couldn’t come up with the plays to make it happen.”

Simple analysis, but spot on, and as Randy Shannon said after the game about the importance of beating Oklahoma, “Big, huge win for us. It’s huge.”

I couldn’t agree more, Randy. This win, as linebacker Jordan Futch stated, means “We are back. We are still The U.”

We’ll swagger this week, and as we look to a schedule that places us right in the mix for a possible BCS Bowl and even a slight chance at a title, we’ll remember that it’s not yet set in stone that this will be a great year for Miami, but damn, it feels good to beat those Sooners.

Quotes taken from the AP story of the game.


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