The Grid Griddle:
Miami was putting the thump on West Virginia, 35-3, last Saturday when coach Dennis Erickson figured it was time to call off his dogs. The Mountaineers partied over the last six minutes and the final was 35-23.
"The score was hardly indicative of how one-sided the game was," said West Virginia coach Don Nehlen. "We couldn't begin to stop Miami's passing game."
The operative numbers with the Hurricanes these days are 26 and 50. They've won 26 straight games, the longest current win streak in college ball, and the half-century is how many games they've won consecutively in the Orange Bowl.
The 'Canes' celebrating was short-lived, however. Because of the apparent "tightness" of their contest and the apparent ease with which Washington dispatched Stanford (41-7), the front-runners in the weekly Associated Press poll changed positions, Miami being assigned the runner-up spot.
"If voters in the AP poll moved us down or changed their votes because of what happened in the last five minutes of our game, I'd be very disappointed," Erickson said. "I don't know why votes change, but I hope it's because of the way Washington played.
"If not, we're sending out the wrong message about college football. It tells you if you put your second and third groups in, you'll lose votes. It tells you you have to keep your first group in all the way and beat the heck out of people."
If that's the message, and it has been for years, and Miami takes heed, say an extended prayer for Temple. The Owls are 1-7, are only an even bet against Akron this weekend, then head south for a little R&R; (rest and relaxation) in the Orange Bowl Nov. 14.
"We're off this week," Erickson said, "and we'll treat the time like a week during spring practice. We'll work our first units against each other and that way we figure to improve."
What, no scrimmage against the Dolphins?
* Look at the numbers the Maryland offense runs up each week and they remind you of the country's annual deficit figures Ross Perot sprayed at us during the presidential campaign. The Terps and coach Mark Duffner are justly proud of their work when they have the ball.
Press on to the yardage perpetrated against Maryland's defense, however, and the national debt figure with its dozen zeros comes to mind. While the Terrapins lead the ACC in total yardage, first downs
and number of plays run, they're last in total defense, passing and scoring defense. And only one team draws more penalty yardage, Saturday's opponent Florida State.
"Yeah, I've thought about what might be happening to us if we didn't have [impressive ball-control statistics], but I still feel we have the defensive people who could have done better," Duffner said. "We came in with a whole new defensive system, an attack type of system, and we've never got it to the point where the right elements were in the right spots creating a perfect mesh."
Sometimes, it looked as if the Terps would have been better off rushing the passer with one guy and dropping 10 back. Or assigning half the school's undergraduate student body to key on a running back such as North Carolina's Natrone Means.
"We've always looked to our defense to set up our offense by creating opportunities," the coach said. The way it has worked out is quarterback John Kaleo & Co. have left the locker room all but convinced they'd better score at least 30 points or the team would find another gift in the L column.
"What's frustrating is we've played good defense for long stretches," Duffner said. "For instance, last Saturday there were seven straight [N.C.] possessions when we stopped them, and they've got a potent offense."
Second in the conference, as a matter of fact, thanks to the 523 yards the Tar Heels were able to amass against the Terps.