ATLANTA - Hold off on Miami's return to national prominence. The Hurricanes ran into a huge roadblock: Georgia Tech's triple-option offense.
The Yellow Jackets ran No. 23 Miami ragged in a game that could have moved the one-time powerhouse to the cusp of playing for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a spot in a major bowl. Georgia Tech piled up 472 yards on the ground - the second-most ever allowed by the Hurricanes - in a 41-23 rout Thursday night.
Jonathan Dwyer ripped off 128 yards with just 10 carries in the first half, including a 58-yard touchdown on a play that typified a Miami defense that looked as though it had never even seen film on Georgia Tech's unique, run-oriented scheme. Two linebackers got caught of position and Dwyer was off to the end zone.
By the end, the Hurricanes (7-4, 4-3) could do little more than huddle around heaters on a chilly night in Atlanta, totally outclassed in their first game as a ranked team in more than two years.
The five-time national champs, who had a losing record in 2007 but came into the game with five straight wins, could have clinched at least a tie for first in the Coastal Division with a win. And there was the possibility of wrapping it up Saturday if some other ACC games went their way.
Now, the race is more confusing than ever.
Georgia Tech (8-3, 5-3) takes over first in the convoluted Coastal, but the Yellow Jackets will need some help because three other contenders would win on a tiebreaker. Still, it was an impressive display by the triple-option offense, which piled up the most rushing yards ever on the Hurricanes other than a 536-yard effort by Auburn in 1944.
Dwyer scored again on his last play of the night, a 6-yard run in which he dragged along a couple of defenders and bounced off another, twisting his left knee. He spent much of the second half on a sideline exercise bike, the Yellow Jackets seeing no need to put him back in with a big game looming against rival Georgia on Nov. 29.
And maybe another game the following week - the ACC championship in Tampa, Fla.
Georgia Tech piled up the fifth-most rushing yards in school history with its most prolific effort in 30 years. Two other players, wingback Roddy Jones (97) and quarterback Josh Nesbitt (93), just missed giving the Yellow Jackets three 100-yard rushers. Lucas Cox broke off a 32-yard touchdown and finished with 78 yards rushing.
Nesbitt dove over from the 1 on a fourth-down play with just over 4 minutes left in the third quarter, stretching the lead to 34-10 and finishing off the Hurricanes. Miami had several defensive players who went against a similar offense in high school, but they had never seen anything like this.
Middle linebacker Glenn Cook continually overran plays or got tangled up with Georgia Tech's zigzagging blockers. Another linebacker, Romeo Davis, got an earful from coach Randy Shannon after failing to stay in his lane on Dwyer's long TD run.
The Hurricanes' offense wasn't much better. Robert Marve and Jacory Harris both got time at quarterback, but neither had much success. Each threw an interception, and Marve's pick was returned 26 yards for Georgia Tech's first touchdown by defensive end Michael Johnson.
Georgia Tech outgained Miami in total yards 518-388, and it really wasn't that close. The Hurricanes trailed 27-3 before finally reaching the end zone midway through the third quarter, and they added a meaningless touchdown with just over a minute remaining.