Miami Gardens, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The seventh-ranked Miami Hurricanes continue their quest for an ACC Coastal Division crown, when they welcome the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to Miami Gardens for a conference showdown at Sun Life Stadium.
Al Golden's Hurricanes almost let one get away from them, as they were given all they could handle on the road last Thursday against North Carolina. Despite key losses on the offensive side of the ball, Miami was able to rally late and preserve their flawless record, moving to 6-0 on the season with a 27-23 victory. The Hurricanes have now won eight straight games dating back to last season, the fourth-longest active streak in the nation.
Jim Grobe's Demon Deacons are coming off back-to-back wins that have them sitting at 4-3 overall and 2-2 in league play. Wake is coming off one of its most complete efforts of the season, routing Maryland in Winston-Salem, 34-10.
Grobe, who tied Peahead Walker as the winningest coach in program history, knows Wake has its work cut out for it against Miami.
"It's hard to compare but just like Clemson; very talented, good people up front, good skill guys, well coached - all those kind of things. You don't get to the top-10 without being a heck of a football team which they are for sure."
Miami has opened up a 7-3 lead in the all-time series with Wake Forest, thanks to wins in each of the last six meetings.
The Demon Deacons got a solid game from quarterback Tanner Price last time out, as he recorded a touchdown passing, rushing and receiving. Price wasn't the only player with a memorable outing, with wideout Michael Campanaro hauling in 11 balls, for 122 yards and one TD. In the process, Campanaro became the school's all-time leader in receptions with 217.
On the season, Price has played well, completing 60.2 percent of his passes, for 1,476 yards, with 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Campanaro has been unstoppable down the field and is one of the nation's top playmakers with 55 receptions, for 704 yards and five scores.
Wake Forest has had its ups and downs defensively this season. The team is yielding 20.2 ppg, allowing 367.7 yards per game. The Demon Deacons have recorded 16 takeaways thus far.
The crown jewel of the unit is All-American candidate Nikita Whitlock in the middle of the line. The 5-11, 260-pound senior is a disruptive force that plays much bigger than his stature. Whitlock has recorded 45 total tackles this season, with 13.5 TFL and 7.0 sacks. Linebackers Mike Olson and Brandon Chubb top the team in tackles with 48 stops each.
Miami has had little to no trouble moving the football in 2013, ranking 13th nationally in scoring (42.2 ppg) and 16th in total offense (499.8 ypg).
A lot of that has to do with the star power the team has at the skill positions. The team could be without some of that talent for the foreseeable future, as both All-ACC tailback Duke Johnson and wideout Philip Dorsett left last week's game against UNC with injuries. Johnson (head) could be back in the lineup this week, but the outlook isn't so good for Dorsett (knee), who will be sidelined indefinitely.
The good news for Miami is that Golden went to sophomore tailback Dallas Crawford against the Tar Heels, and he rumbled for 137 yards and two touchdowns in the win. However, at 7.1 yards per carry and 109.2 yards per game, Johnson is still the cornerstone of the UM rushing attack when healthy.
Crawford credited his teammates' ability to pick each other up following adversity in the win over North Carolina.
"We're resilient," Crawford said. "We've been through a lot over the years. It took a long time to get to this point. In years past, we probably would have lost this game. But it's all about believing, and that's what we did tonight."
The passing game is left to veteran signal caller Stephen Morris, who has had his ups and downs. Morris threw four interceptions last week and has eight on the season, compared to just nine touchdown passes. Wideout Allen Hurns is the top target down the field, with 26 receptions, for 481 yards and two TDs.
Miami had some problems against UNC, but a lot of that had to do with the offense turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Overall, the Hurricanes have played well defensively, ranking third in the ACC and seventh nationally in sacks (3.3 per game), with 20 on the year.
Denzel Perryman headlines the squad from his linebacker position, pacing Miami with 46 total tackles. Fellow LB Jimmy Gaines is second with 36 stops, with two fumble recoveries. Shayon Green (26 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) and Anthony Chickillo (20 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks) have caused problems off the edges.
An opportunistic defense, Miami has recorded 18 takeaways on the year. Tyriq McCord (7 tackles) has been solid in that regard, posting three sacks, two interceptions, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles thus far.