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UM focus: W-I-N, not B-C-S

Davis tells his players to focus on what they can control; they respond by beating Pittsburgh 35-7.


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 12, 2000

College Football 2000 Preview
[AP photo]
Miami's Phillip Buchanon runs for a touchdown after intercepting a pass from Pittsburgh quarterback John Thurman.
MIAMI -- For the Hurricanes, trying to figure out the BCS simply doesn't compute. While the Hurricanes routed the Pittsburgh Panthers 35-7 Saturday at the Orange Bowl, UM linebacker Dan Morgan said it feels like he is playing against the machines that tabulate the BCS formula.

"I have no idea how the BCS works," Morgan said. "I'm clueless. The system is kind of weird. I think we're in good position if we keep winning."

It all depends on how the chips fall -- the micro chips.

UM (8-1, 5-0 Big East) remains on course for a possible berth in the Orange Bowl. But the 'Canes need some help. For a while Saturday, UM thought Texas A&M would upset No. 1 Oklahoma, but the Sooners rallied for a 35-31 win.

Publicly, UM is downplaying other games. Privately, the issue is a hot topic among the players.

In his post-game locker room speech, UM coach Butch Davis addressed the Oklahoma-Texas A&M contest. Had Oklahoma lost, Miami likely would have moved up to No. 1 in the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls.

"If you just keep winning, that's the only thing you have control over," Davis said. "We have to not worry about it, and at the end we hope everything works out."

Miami got off to a sluggish start against Pitt (5-4, 2-3), wasting two excellent scoring chances in the first half. Reggie Wayne dropped what would have a 20-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone. And James Jackson was stopped at the Pitt 1-yard line on fourth down with 19 seconds left in the second quarter.

In the second half, UM regrouped and broke the game open with three touchdowns.

"(In the first half) we weren't physical or showing our speed," quarterback Ken Dorsey said. "We showed that in the second half."

Dorsey had two touchdown passes and he scored on a 1-yard sneak. He added a two-point conversion run after Ivan Mercer's 12-yard catch in the third quarter. Miami opened the scoring in the first quarter on cornerback Phillip Buchanon's 71-yard interception return. It was the eighth touchdown scored by Miami's defense this season, including a school-record six on interceptions. "Those defensive touchdowns help a lot," receiver Santana Moss said. "It motivates the offense to try to outscore them."

Moss, who had 100 yards on six catches, set a UM record with 2,462 career receiving yards. Michael Irvin (1985-87) held the mark with 2,433. Buchanon was penalized 15 yards for excessive celebration after dancing near the goal.

The penalty forced Todd Sievers to attempt a 35-yard extra point, which was wide right.

Miami's defense dominated most of the day, holding the Panthers to 266 yards. Pitt receiver Antonio Bryant, who leads the nation in receiving yards (148.86 a game), was limited to 31 on four receptions. He had five drops.

With the game in hand early in the fourth, Davis substituted frequently instead of trying to put up more points to impress pollsters.

"Crucify me, but I think it would have been a lot bigger scenario if we lose Kenny Dorsey," Davis said. "That 35-7 is as convincing as you need to win."

NOTES: Davis reportedly is high on Alabama's coaching short list. But UM athletic director Paul Dee said he hasn't been contacted by anyone in the Alabama athletic department. Dee said colleges commonly ask permission. Davis has three years remaining on his contract. Miami plans to discuss an extension after the regular season. ... Morgan, who made 13 tackles, set a school record for career tackles with 500. He broke the record of 490 by George Mira Jr. (1984-87).

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