MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- In a season full of ups and downs, the Miami Hurricanes put together arguably their best performance.
Clive Walford set a career-high with 135 receiving yards.
Stephen Morris threw for 413 yards and three touchdowns to help lead the Miami Hurricanes to a 40-9 win over South Florida to become bowl-eligible.
"It was nice," head coach Al Golden said. "Obviously we knew they were going to bring a lot of energy. The game means a lot to both teams. I was nervous with them coming off a bye week so we did whatever we could to get them fresh this week, we didn't go in pads very much, and the kids responded today."
Clive Walford caught three passes for 135 yards and a touchdown, Herb Waters caught four for 130 including an 87-yard touchdown, and Phillip Dorsett caught a career-high 12 balls for 111 yards for Miami. It was the first time since at least 1996 that UM has had three 100-yard receivers.
"It says a lot about our unit, it's a next-man-in mentality," Dorsett said. "If somebody goes down, somebody else has to step up."
The Hurricanes were without receivers Rashawn Scott (suspended), Davon Johnson (knee), Robert Lockhart (knee), and Allen Hurns was limited with a broken thumb, but Waters and Kendal Thompkins (three catches, 80 yards, and a TD) stepped up in their roles.
Miami (6-5) took a week off from non-conference play before traveling to Duke in the regular season finale next week. It is undetermined of the scenarios for Miami to win the Coastal at this time as the ACC has released conflicting reports in the past week. This is of course contingent on Miami not self-imposing a postseason ban, which they did last year amidst an NCAA investigation. The NCAA is expected to send Miami a notice of allegations in the next two to three weeks. Miami would have 90 days to respond to the notice.
"I'm not in that loop (of discussion of a postseason ban)," Golden said. "I have full confidence in our president (Donna Shalala), our legal counsel, and our athletic director Blake James. The way I look at it is we have the best president in the country. We have a president who oversaw a $600 million budget when she was in the cabinet, she was in rooms where they made decisions whether they were going to overthrow heads of state or commit troops so I think she can handle this one."
Eleven seniors were honored prior to the game including Mike James, who was limited to 25 yards on eight carries. Freshman Duke Johnson led the team with 66 yards rushing and a touchdown on 13 carries.
Morris’ 413 passing yards are the most since throwing for an ACC-record 566 yards on Sept. 29 against N.C. State. His third career 400-yard game came on 21 of 32 passing. Morris is only the second Hurricane (Gino Torretta is the other) to have three 400-yard games.
With starting quarterback B.J. Daniels out with a broken ankle, USF (3-7) elected to lift the redshirt off of junior Bobby Eveld as he earned the start over Matt Floyd.
Eveld completed 3 of 8 passes for 29 yards before Denzel Perryman knocked him out of the game with a shoulder injury in the second quarter. Floyd struggled in relief completing 16 of 27 passes for 163 yards with two interceptions.
It was a better effort from a team that came into the game ranked 115th in total defense and 88th in scoring as UM held USF to 358 yards--132 less than UM's average.
"Clearly Eddie (Johnson) and Denzel make a difference, I don't think there's any question, having guys back like that and hopefully we'll get Deon (Bush) back," Golden said. "I think Corey King did a nice job. I think the presence of all three of those kids made a difference in the game. We play a lot of guys, we rotated, and we got some takeaways, which were huge."
Gaines came up with another big play on defense as he picked off a pass by Floyd as UM took over at the USF 15.
Morris connected with Thompkins for a 15-yard touchdown on the very next play to give Miami a 16-0 lead. It was Thompkins’ second career touchdown, first since 2009.
Miami had a 1st-and-goal from the 1 on the ensuing drive following Mitchell’s fumble, but Mike James was stuffed for no gain. A false start by Dyron Dye backed up Miami, which then ran a toss play for Johnson, who dove towards the near pylon, but fumbled the ball out of bounds through the end zone resulting in a touchback.
After poor clock management by USF to end the half with a 23-yard field goal by Bonani as head coach Skip Holtz took three timeouts into the locker room with him, Johnson made up for his earlier blunder.
Johnson scored on an 8-yard touchdown run similar to the one he fumbled and into the same end zone, this time he dove into the end zone. UM’s two-point conversion attempt failed with Miami leading 22-3.
Waters’ 87-yard touchdown followed by a two-point conversion to Dorsett gave UM a 30-3 lead. Morris then found Walford for a 65-yard touchdown to put him over the 400-yard mark.
Ryan Williams relieved Morris in the fourth and completed 4 of 5 passes for 50 yards including a diving 37-yard reception by Thompkins. Wieclaw’s fourth field goal capped the scoring for Miami.
Notes: Waters came into the game with five receptions for 32 yards. … The 31-point win was the biggest margin of victory over a Division I opponent since beating Duke 49-14 last season. … Morris is just 24 yards away from becoming Miami’s ninth 3,000-yard passer. … Johnson needs 69 rushing yards to break Clinton Portis’ true freshman mark set in 1999.