Preview: Savannah State at Miami (Fla.)
Updated On: Sep 18 2013 04:29:42 PM CDT
Fresh off coach Al Golden's biggest victory in three seasons at the helm and a week off to savor it, No. 17 Miami eyes its first 3-0 start since 2004 when it hosts Savannah State on Saturday. Golden was hired in 2011 to restore the luster of an embattled Hurricane program and led his team to a combined 13-11 record over his first two seasons, often falling flat in high-profile games. All that changed on Sept. 7 when Miami forced five turnovers in a 21-16 home win over then-No. 9 Florida.
Despite wrapping up their nonconference slate against Savannah State and winless South Florida next Saturday, Golden has driven home the point that a letdown will not be tolerated. "You have to respect every single opponent that you play. We're never going to take anyone lightly," Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris said. It is unlikely the Tigers will give Miami much of a scare, however, as they struggled to beat Division II opponent Fort Valley State last week and have been outscored 143-12 in losses to Georgia Southern and Troy.
TV: 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3. LINE: None.
ABOUT SAVANNAH STATE (1-2): The Tigers, who have registered only one victory in each of the previous three seasons, won for the first time since defeating Edward Waters 42-35 in October 2012. Savannah State was outgained 425-243 against the Wildcats and has mustered only 573 yards of total offense thus far. The Tigers have been particular woeful on the ground (rushing for a total of 52 yards this season, including no more than 21 in any contest) and holding onto the ball, committing 10 turnovers.
ABOUT MIAMI (2-0): The Hurricanes were far from dominant in their win over the Gators, as they were outgained 413-212 and gave up more than twice as many first downs (22-10). As a result, much of Golden's focus in the off week has been spent attending to an offense that went 1-for-11 against Florida on third down and converted on only five of their 25 third-down opportunities thus far. One area on offense Miami has thrived is scoring quickly - all eight of its drives have taken less than three minutes.
1. Miami is second in the nation in red-zone defense, allowing opponents just one rushing touchdown and three field goals in eight trips.
2. The Hurricanes have allowed only two touchdowns in the last 220:30 at home.
3. Morris needs 39 yards passing to surpass former Miami great Jim Kelly (5,228) for 10th place and 180 yards to overtake Steve Walsh (5,369) for ninth place in school history.
PREDICTION: Miami 63, Savannah State 0