The Miami Hurricanes were sitting on the border of mediocrity.
One week removed from a 59-21 loss on the road, Miami’s goal had gotten away from them. They were eliminated from ACC championship contention, and their motivation had disappeared.
But despite all the negatives, Miami did something they haven’t done the last four years once the ACC championship was out of reach; play with energy.
Last year, Miami lost 30-13 to Virginia after their fourth loss of the season, and stumbled to a 6-7 finish. A limp to the finish line of the season had become a staple of the Golden regime.
But on Saturday afternoon, for the first time since Golden’s departure, the ‘Canes showed signs of change.
Change from the usual disappointment, and change in the attitude of the players.
Early on in the matchup, Georgia Tech struck first blood on a Broderick Snoddy touchdown. It was in that moment that Miami knew they needed to differentiate themselves from past years, and come together.
“We came to the sideline and we all stuck together,” Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End Al-Quadin Muhammed said, “It was a little bit of adversity, and it motivated us to not let that happen again.”
And until the fourth quarter Miami did not let another touchdown happen again.
The Hurricanes scored 31 unanswered points, and forced four turnovers to beat a team that won the ACC coastal division just one year ago.
“There was never any wavering,” Interim head coach Larry Scott said postgame. “It was kind of one of those deals where we started to see them kind of feed off of each other, and that’s what we preaching about this week. Just thinking about that; thinking about each other and the commitment.”
On Saturday, Miami practiced what Scott preached and were committed to each other. Rather than focus on their NFL Draft stock like in years past, the ‘Canes leaders played for one another and fought hard on senior day.
Because while on paper these games may not matter, in reality they couldn’t matter more.
Legendary coach Vince Lombardi once said that if you have dedication, pride, and never quit you are a winner. Over the last five years Miami hasn’t played with that pride at the end of the season, but in 2015 the ‘Canes made a change for the better.
They made it clear that while circumstances surrounding a matchup may change, their passion to play for each other will not.
Game Prediction: On Saturday Miami prevented history from repeating itself against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Rather than lose their way, Miami looked just as driven and motivated. The ‘Canes rolled to a win due to their passion, and this Saturday I expect nothing less. The Pittsburgh Panthers are playing for a good bowl game, but Miami’s energy is too much for them to handle. Pittsburgh has had a good season so far, but Brad Kaaya’s 350 yard passing game is too much for the Panthers to handle. Miami finishes the regular season with a victory.
Final Score: Miami 31 Pittsburgh 21