The team that seemed to have all of the answers early in the season suddenly doesn't seem to have any.
Not only is Miami having trouble stopping other teams, it doesn't quite understand what it has done to stop itself. "We have to come back and get together this week to figure out what is going on," quarterback
Brock Berlin told the Miami Herald after Saturday's 24-17 homecoming loss to Clemson. "We want to win football games. The main thing is to stick together and bounce back."
It won't be easy. Miami (6-2, 3-2 in the ACC), which also lost to North Carolina on Oct.30, takes on No.10 Virginia (4-1, 7-1) in Charlottesville on Saturday.
The Cavaliers have given up only 94.9 rushing yards a game. Miami might have a hard time gaining any more than that.
The Hurricanes average 132.2, but in the past two weeks - largely due to injuries and shuffling along the offensive line - they gained only 77 and 101, respectively. Miami will need Frank Gore (its leading rusher at 67.6 yards a game) to be healthy. He scored two touchdowns Saturday but an ankle injury kept him out of overtime.
Meanwhile, Virginia has a powerful ground game that Miami's defense, once seemingly bulletproof, might have trouble stopping. The Cavaliers, led by Wali Lundy and Alvin Pearman, average 254.8 yards, sixth in Division I-A. Lundy and Pearman rush for more than 80 yards a game.
"The thing that Virginia has is a very solid, physical offensive line," Miami coach Larry Coker said.
To compensate for their weaknesses, the Hurricanes again will need to rely on Berlin. Booed earlier in the season at the Orange Bowl, he has been outstanding during most of the past five games, throwing for 13 touchdowns and one interception.
CRISSINGER-HILL SUSPENDED: Florida Atlantic junior tight end Anthony Crissinger-Hill, a graduate of Jefferson High in Tampa and an NFL prospect, was suspended for the rest of the season. Coach Howard Schnellenberger did not give details, saying only it was for conduct detrimental to the team.
"I don't think he'll be back," Schnellenberger told the Palm Beach Post.
The suspension was an enormous blow to the Owls, who played without him during Saturday's 24-6 loss at Troy. But he wasn't the only one. Starting receiver Roosevelt Bynes also was suspended for undisclosed reasons, and FAU was missing two players from its already thin offensive line due to injuries. The result wasn't pretty. The Owls (6-2) gained only 248 yards, their fewest of the season. Jared Allen and Danny Embick threw for 260 yards but were sacked six times as FAU was held to minus-12 rushing yards.
The loss also snapped the Owls' 11-game road win streak.
BIG LETDOWN: After Saturday's 24-17 loss to Hampton knocked it out of contention for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title, Bethune-Cookman (5-3, 4-2) has little left to play for.
With Florida A&M (3-6) in the same boat - and not even a member of the MEAC this season thanks to an aborted attempt to move up to I-A - the Nov.20 Florida Classic in Orlando will be only for pride.
That is motivation enough for Wildcats coach Alvin Wyatt, whose team has beaten FAMU the past two seasons. Before that, the Rattlers had a Classic win streak of seven. While FAMU has the luxury of consecutive bye weeks to prepare, the Wildcats play Howard on Saturday.