With Miami being undefeated coming into this contest, this game had major championship implications, for both the Atlantic Coast Conference and the College Football Playoff. Miami came into this game dealing with several injuries at many key positions and coming off of an emotional last second victory against Florida State on the road, there was the potential for an emotional hangover and early on and for most of the game, it appeared that might be the case.
The Miami defense started off strong, but the Georgia Tech offensive line proved to be the key to their 2nd ranked rushing offense. Once Yellow Jackets running back Clinton Lynch broke free for a 48 yard run in the first quarter, it set the tempo for their game plan for the rest of the way. The Canes’ defense did not have an answer for the Georgia Tech rushing attack the entire game after that play and throughout the game it gave them fits.
By the end of the first quarter, Georgia Tech had six runners rush for 137 yards on just 16 carries. Georgia Tech averaged 8.7 yards a carry to begin the game and that slowed down the speed and ferocity of the Hurricanes’ defense early and wore them down. Georgia Tech came in ferociously attacking with the ground game with their potent Triple Option Offense and they had the Canes facing an uphill battle from the start.
One minute into the second quarter, the Yellow Jackets were up by a score of 14-3 and Miami could not get the ball rolling offensively. Quarterback Malik Rosier began the game struggling through the air, but as the game went on he started to find his rhythm. It was visible in the beginning how difficult it was for the Canes to spread the ball, but last week’s hero, wide receiver Darrell Langham had a crucial 33 yard catch that sparked the offense on their sixth drive of the game. A nine play, 77 yard drive helped cut the lead for the Hurricanes as they closed out the half trailing 14-13. The drive was capped by a 17 yard receiving touchdown from newly anointed starting running back, Travis Homer.
This was Homer’s first game as a starter for Miami and he did not disappoint. By halftime, he had 81 rushing yards on nine carries, as well as two catches for 18 receiving yards. He was Miami’s lone bright spot offensively during the first half with leading receiver Ahmmon Richards and starting running back Mark Walton sidelined. Homer finished the game with 170 rushing yards on 20 carries and one touchdown, along with the two receptions for 18 yards and one touchdown. His production today proved that he is more than capable of being the starting running back with Walton out for the season.
Homer was impressive to watch throughout the night as he burst through the gaps in the line and proved how versatile and explosive he can be for this offense. Through all the excitement and recognition he might receive, success can come with humility at times. Homer stated after the game, “I couldn’t have done that without my line, quarterback or receivers.” This kind of attitude from star players and the rest of the team could be another little thing that could get this team to Charlotte to compete for the ACC championship.
Rosier played at a very subpar level heading into halftime. He completed nine of 17 passes for 96 yards but did have a touchdown pass on Miami’s last drive of the half. In the second half, he came out throwing the ball fearlessly as he completed a 70 yard pass with 5:03 left in the third quarter to set the Canes up for another field goal. Down 24-16, that’s when Miami started to look like the team it has been all season. Rosier was throwing it left and right as he completed a pass to seven different players.
By the end of the game, Langham led the team with five receptions for 100 yards and wide receiver Braxton Berrios added 6 receptions for 44 yards. Langham also proved he is worthy of being a starter by having a crucial game-saving bobbling catch to compete with the winning touchdown he had last week. That catch set up the last of Badgley’s four field goals to give Miami their first lead of the game with 4 seconds left in regulation. On Langham’s clutch catch, Miami head coach Mark Richt said, “It was lucky that we got the tip and it landed in his arms. He’s been Mr. Clutch.”
Rosier finished the game 23 of 37 passing for 297 yards and a touchdown, as the Canes put on a showing of grit and determination in the second half to come out with the win. Richt spoke about this victory after the game.
“What a wonderful victory for our team, our program, our fans, our university,” said Richt. “Our hats are off to Georgia Tech and how they played. They played good enough to win as well, just one of those games where somebody had to lose. … We did what we had to do to win. We kept fighting, believing and scrapping and that’s a tremendous trait for a football team.”
Georgia Tech had tremendous success running the ball all over a Miami defense that was depleted in the secondary. With their lethalTriple Option Offense, the Yellow Jackets had 172 rushing yards on 27 carries by halftime. Lynch led the way for the Yellow Jackets with 71 rushing yards on five attempts as the team finished the game with 226 total rushing yards on 53 rushes. Quarterback TaQuon Marshall only completed three passes for 55 yards, but Georgia Tech did a remarkable job implementing their game plan against the Canes but it was not enough to get the win. This was a physical game from start to finish and Miami showcased the toughness it might need to steal the whole show.
Miami looks to keep their undefeated season alive next week at home against the Syracuse Orange, who just knocked off the 2nd ranked Clemson University Tigers. The Yellow Jackets look to rebound against a solid Wake Forest Demon Deacons team back home in Atlanta.