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College Football

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Miami welcomes role of spoiler

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Posted: Thursday December 03, 1998 10:40 PM

  Still feeling their pain: QB Scott Covington and the Hurricanes hope to gain relief by trashing UCLA's dreams AP

MIAMI (AP) -- Despite being unceremoniously drummed out of the Bowl Championship Series, the Miami Hurricanes have considerable motivation for their game Saturday against No. 3 UCLA.

"We just got our season spoiled," said Miami cornerback Leonard Myers. "Why not spoil UCLA's season?"

If successful, the consequences would be mightily felt all across the college football landscape.

The Bruins (10-0) would lose the chance to play for the national title in the Fiesta Bowl. A UCLA loss probably would move Kansas State into the championship picture and jumble the rest of the Bowl Championship Series, as well as some other bowl scenarios.

"You've got to get excited about the chance to spoil their hopes for the national championship," said linebacker Dan Morgan. "I think everyone's feeling real good about the opportunity."

The Hurricanes (7-3) still feel pain from their own missed opportunity, when a win over Syracuse last week would have given them the Big East title and a berth in either the Orange or Sugar bowls. Instead, Miami suffered its worst defeat in more than 50 years, losing 66-13.

Those lofty bowl dreams turned into the Micron PC Bowl, a minimum-payout affair played just 20 miles up the highway from the Hurricanes' campus. And it gave them even more incentive to knock off the Bruins.

"We're sick to our stomachs right now," Myers said. "We just can't let another team come in and score that many points on us."

The Bruins certainly have that capability. Their 40.0 scoring average ranks sixth in the nation. UCLA has gained at least 500 yards total offense three times this season, topped by a 584-yard outing against No. 20 Texas.

UCLA owns the nation's longest winning streak at 20 games, but there have been some close calls along the way.

The Bruins needed overtime for a 41-38 win over Oregon, and later endured back-to-back scares against Stanford and Oregon State. In three of its wins, UCLA has given up more than 30 points.

"We've been through some battles and come out on top," said UCLA quarterback Cade McNown. "The thing I always tell the guys is that we can't rely on what happened then to just happen again. We're going to decide what happens by how we play."

A loss Saturday still would put the Bruins in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin, a worthy accomplishment any year but this one. Not when there's even more at stake.

Kansas State, No. 2 in the Associated Press poll but third behind Tennessee and UCLA in the BCS computer formula, is anxiously waiting. The Wildcats are ready to pounce if they beat No. 10 Texas A&M in the Big 12 championship game and the Bruins lose.

"We've got to understand it's a one-game tournament now for us," said UCLA coach. "If we lose, we're out. It would be a real shame to get this far and not take advantage of it. I think our players will be real focused."

If UCLA reverts to the Rose Bowl, it will knock No. 6 Arizona out of Pasadena and probably the BCS picture altogether. That would jumble the Pac-10 Conference's bowl commitments all the way down the line.

But it would be a plus for No. 5 Ohio State or No. 7 Florida, one of which would be left out of the BCS if top-ranked Tennessee, UCLA and Kansas State all win.

 
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