The Miami Hurricanes already knew they'd have the wins to play in a bowl game this year. Now, as they prepare for Wake Forest, they know they'll be allowed to.
With the conclusion of a lengthy NCAA investigation, the school learned Tuesday it would face no further bowl ban after a two-year self-imposed postseason absence. They can now prepare to host the Demon Deacons Saturday without that uncertainty hanging over their heads.
"It's a relief that we finally have a decision," Miami President Donna Shalala said. "It's been a long haul."
The seventh-ranked Hurricanes (6-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) move forward with their highest ranking since reaching No. 3 in the Nov. 13, 2005, AP poll. They've won eight straight for the first time since that season, are 6-0 for the first time since 2004, and are looking for their first 7-0 start since 2003.
The Hurricanes came from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to win 27-23 at North Carolina on Oct. 17, despite losing running back Duke Johnson and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to injuries and quarterback Stephen Morris throwing four interceptions.
"Obviously, things went terribly wrong for me offensively," Morris said. "Our biggest focus was just trying to put that behind us and focus on this last drive, really."
Morris led a 90-yard touchdown drive that ended with Dallas Crawford's second TD run of the quarter with 16 seconds left.
Crawford ran 33 times for a career-high 137 yards after Johnson left. The Hurricanes' No. 2 back has 10 touchdowns on 63 offensive touches this year.
Johnson leads the team with 677 yards on 92 carries, and the Hurricanes expect him to play Saturday after taking a hit to the head against North Carolina. Dorsett won't play and is likely to miss six weeks after partially tearing his left MCL.
Morris went 19 for 35 for 322 yards and matched his season total in interceptions.
They've turned the ball over 12 times in the last three games after giving it away twice in their first three.
"We can't live like that," Hurricanes coach Al Golden said.
The Demon Deacons (4-3, 2-2 ACC) didn't live like that Saturday in a 34-10 win over Maryland in which they had a plus-3 turnover margin to help coach Jim Grobe tie the school record for career wins (77).
"Personally, you're wrapped up in your players and school and you just need to win games," Grobe told the school's official website. "What we've done in the past really means little as far as the future is concerned. To be honest with you, I'm proud of what we've accomplished at Wake Forest but for me personally, I much would rather win the next five."
Quarterback Tanner Price became the first player in school history to throw for a touchdown, catch one and run for one in the same game.
Wide receiver Michael Campanaro caught one and threw for one in the same game as he set the school's record for career receptions (217) with an 11-catch, 122-yard performance.
An upset in Miami would give the Demon Deacons three straight wins for the first time since Oct. 8, 2011, when they beat Florida State to win four straight.
"We know to go down there and win, we've got to play really, really well," Grobe said. "I thought going down to Clemson we had a football team that could go compete with those guys and we didn't do it. I think going to Miami, our players and our coaches know that we've got to bring it. We can't just go down there and show up against this great team. Even if we play well, we're going to have to play a little above that to get these guys. They're a heck of a team."
Wake Forest has lost six straight against ranked opponents -- the last four by a combined 188-20 score -- since that victory over Florida State.
Miami has won six straight against Wake Forest and is 4-0 since the series entered the ACC. Miami leads the series 7-3 with all of Wake Forest's wins coming at Miami, but the last was in 1944.
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Miami, in the midst of an eight-game winning streak dating to last season, can now play free of its NCAA investigation. The Canes got more good news this week when running back Duke Johnson was cleared to play Saturday after being injured Oct. 17 at UNC. Wake Forest, though, has turned the corner offensively and won back-to-back Atlantic Division games. Still, Wake Forest has not beaten the Hurricanes since 1944.
Based on ESPN.com's rankings, Miami's 2009 recruiting class ranked 7th. Then in Nov. 2009, Miami notified the NCAA of an internal investigation into potential violations. The recruiting class has not ranked as high as 7th again until this incoming 2014 class (currently 4th).