Miami hopes to find redemption against Sun Devils

By Patrick Klein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Miami revisits the scene of its last loss, a 29-0 thrashing by Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl, as the No. 5 Hurricanes travel to Tempe to face Arizona State.

UM coach Dennis Erickson is hoping that this time around, his team can pick up a victory and put their most recent visit to Arizona behind them.

"I think a lot (of players) were here physically, I don't know how many were here mentally," Erickson said about his team's Fiesta Bowl performance. "That's been with us all winter and summer. We haven't had much success out there (last year's Fiesta Bowl; the 1987 contest, when Penn State beat then-No. 1 Miami 14-10 to claim the national championship; and their 39-37 loss to UCLA in the 1985 game), but we'd sure like to make something positive happen out there."

When asked whether he thought the Miami dynasty, which has claimed two national titles in the last six years, was over, Erickson was very direct.

"I guess we will find out Saturday," he said.

This weekend's game may be as definitive for ASU, as Coach Bruce Snyder tabbed this game as one that can either make or destroy a season.

"Besides national recognition," Snyder said, "I believe if we end up winning or at least playing winning football regardless of the score that will tell our players that we have a shot at the Rose Bowl.

"If we get embarrassed, then we start thinking, 'Oh, where are we going to finish in the Pac?'."

The goal of any Pac-10 team is to end up in Pasa-dena on New Year's Day facing the Big Ten champion. This weekend's Pac-10 action will have no bearing on which team will represent the conference in the Rose Bowl, however, as all ten squads will face non-conference opponents.

These matchups will be, as Washington head coach Jim Lambright called his team's game against Ohio State, a battle "for national prestige, for pride."

"But," he added, "we do not need to beat Ohio State to win the conference."

The Pac-10 is undefeated against non-conference opponents this year, going 4-0 last week.

USC returns to Happy Valley, Penn., looking to avenge last year's 21-20 loss at Penn State.

The loss, sealed when the Trojans' attempt for two failed with 37 seconds left, marked Coach John Robinson's first-ever loss to a Big Ten team in 11 games.

This year, No. 14 Southern Cal will face the eighth-ranked Nittany Lions with a running game seemingly reborn after last week's victory over Washington.

USC rushed for 232 yards, including 109 by freshman Delon Washington, who became the first Trojan back to ever gain over 100 yards in his first game.

Last year, Tailback U. as the Trojans are known for the abundance of quality rushers that have played for them through the years averaged only 108.6 yards on the ground.

Robinson was optimistic about that aspect going into this weekend's game.

"We certainly are improving," he said. "We have improved our will to run the ball. Shawn Walters did a solid job and Delon was brilliant."

Brilliant also describes Napoleon Kaufman, who pounded out 152 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries in last weekend's loss to USC.

This week he will face an Ohio State defense that last year held him to a season-low 51 yards on 18 carries in Washington's 21-12 defeat in Columbus.

That was the second game of the season and the second game as head coach for Lambright, who had taken over after long-time coach Don James resigned because of a scandal that resulted in a two-year ban on postseason play for Washington.

With a full year to adjust to the rigors of head coaching, Lambright may have finally settled into his job.

"Last year was a nightmare," Lambright said. "It was definitely a situation where I was stretched wearing too many hats it was great to get to the end of the year and give those hats to others."

Also wearing many hats and costumes is Kaufman, who has to play the part of a Heisman Trophy candidate, in the numerous promotional posters that Washington is turning out. Kaufman put his foot down on one that had him dressed as Napoleon Bonaparte.

"I just like the 'basic player'-look," Kaufman said. "Besides, it had already been done with Napoleon McCallum (the Navy running back who was up for the award a few years back)."

Kaufman is not the only one pushing himself for the award. Lambright offered his unsolicited opinion that his running back won the much hyped matchup last weekend with USC's Johnson (18-23, 129 yards, one touchdown).

Said Lambright: "I don't think there was any comparison with who won the honors in that matchup."

Read Next Article