Miami’s seniors closed out perfect home careers, but said their grand finale is still ahead.
“We got a whole bunch ahead of us,” senior tackle Mike Sullivan said after the second-ranked Hurricanes’ 33-7 victory over Syracuse Saturday night.
“We’re perched and ready to grab that championship,” Sullivan said.
Coach Dennis Erickson continued to avoid speculating about Miami’s chances for a second straight national championship, but was glad to hold forth on the subject of the Hurricane defense.
“The defense went up a notch. It’s getting to be where we want it,” he said.
Syracuse Coach Dick MacPherson said his offense began with “a disaster” in the form of a lost fumble and didn’t get much better.
“Any offense is a bad matchup against that defense,” he said.
MacPherson wouldn’t say where Miami should be ranked. “All I’m saying is we played a great football team, the best team we’ve played.”
Craig Erickson ran 15 yards for a touchdown and passed three yards to Wesley Carroll for another Hurricane score.
Carlos Huerta, a junior, set an NCAA record with his 136th consecutive extra point when he converted after Erickson’s first-quarter scoring run.
Huerta added two more extra points as well as four field goals in five attempts, the longest a 52-yarder that equaled his career best.
“It was a great night, but it was the seniors’ night,” Huerta said. “I’m looking forward to grabbing a shot at this title.”
Erickson, who completed 23 of 41 passes for 259 yards, and Carroll, who tied a career best with 11 receptions for 97 yards, were among 17 seniors who were never beaten at home. Miami has won 38 straight games at the Orange Bowl, dating back to 1985.
The seniors held their helmets aloft and offensive guard Luis Cristobal turned a somersault when they were removed from the game with just over three minutes remaining.
The victory over Syracuse (6-4-2), which is headed for the Aloha Bowl, was Miami’s 53rd in a row since 1983 over unranked teams. The Hurricanes (8-2) close the season next week at San Diego State, then face Texas in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1.