Originally created 11/05/04

Clemson gets a shot at Miami



RALEIGH, N.C. - Miami plays Clemson for homecoming Saturday, its first Atlantic Coast Conference game at the Orange Bowl since the opener more than two months ago.

It hardly could come at a better time.

The 11th-ranked Hurricanes play suffered a shocking loss last week to North Carolina that might have ended their national title hopes. They were 21-point favorites against a team that gave up nearly 700 yards of total offense in its previous game.

Now, Miami has to regroup.

"I still think we can have a good football team," coach Larry Coker said. "We're a resilient bunch. We're a tough bunch. We know there's a lot of season left, and we have some tough football games left.

"We still have a lot to play for."

Clemson coach Tommy Bowden certainly is a believer. He doesn't plan to sneak up on Miami.

"Unfortunately, when you lose like they did, then we'll get their full attention," Bowden said. "If they win that game, then they're undefeated and maybe a little overconfident and maybe play down to us. I don't think that will happen this week."

The Hurricanes (6-1, 3-1 ACC) need to tighten up their defense down the stretch to stay atop the conference standings. The Tar Heels gained 545 yards - the most Miami had allowed since 2000 - and drove 65 yards in the final two minutes for a game-winning field goal.

That came after Miami gave up a total of 947 yards in victories over Louisville and North Carolina State.

"Obviously, Louisville had some success, North Carolina had success and N.C. State had some success, but you can't take everything that they did that was successful," Bowden said. "You have to take bits and pieces of those three teams' success and pick the parts out of your offense that are very similar and do the best you can."

Elsewhere in the ACC this week, Georgia Tech travels to N.C. State, North Carolina hosts Virginia Tech, Duke goes to Florida State and Virginia is at home against Maryland.

The Terrapins are coming off their most impressive victory of the season, a 20-17 upset of then-No. 5 Florida State. It snapped a three-game losing streak and left them in position for a fourth straight bowl game.

Now, they play Virginia, tied for first in the ACC with Miami and Virginia Tech.

"We had a very, very significant win this past weekend," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "But for me, it's kind of behind us, and I'm really concerned with the challenge ahead.

"This challenge might be bigger than the one we faced last week."

The Seminoles should have an easy time getting back on track, since the Blue Devils have yet to win a conference game. But Florida State coach Bobby Bowden has seen enough this season to know nothing is guaranteed.

"Our conference is getting pretty violent," he said. "You take Virginia. You don't know, they might be as good as us, but when they played here, they didn't look like it. They had to come in front of our 80,000 people, our backyard and they were ranked higher.

"There are so many little things that motivate a team that can set you up for a fall."