What a statement.
And that might be an understatement.
The Miami Hurricanes defeated No. 23 Texas A&M 48-33 on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium for their first victory against a top-25 team since 2021 — on national television, no less.
It also was UM’s first win against a Southeastern Conference opponent in 10 years, the Canes’ last such triumph coming against the No. 12 Florida Gators at Hard Rock in September 2013. UM had gone 0-5 against the SEC (including a loss last year to Texas A&M) after the ‘13 victory.
In the process, Hurricanes All-American safety Kam Kinchens sustained what appeared to be a head or neck injury with 1:58 remaining in the game. He appeared to move his fingers initially, as seen in an ABC broadcast, but was put on a stretcher and carted off. The TV broadcast said he was transported to the Ryder Trauma Center of Jackson Memorial Hospital.
An uplifting tweet sent out at about 11: 45 p.m. by the Canes Football account of the University of Miami, courtesy of Kinchens’ mother Merdie Kinchens-Butler, showed a photo of a smiling Kinchens — described as “the heart and soul’’ of the Hurricanes by multiple players — throwing up the U from his hospital bed.
“All we can say is GOD is Amazing........’’ the caption reads, with the words “That’s one tough Cane” underneath the photo, accompanied by an emoji of crossed fingers.
That’s one tough Cane
(picture via Merdie Kinchens-Butler) pic.twitter.com/IEHonGrOMm
— Miami Hurricanes Football (@CanesFootball) September 10, 2023
UM head coach Mario Cristobal was reassuring after the game and said everything “seems to be relatively normal” regarding his initial report on Kinchens. The coach said he’d be heading to the hospital “right after I get done with the press conference and see how he’s doing, but it seems like we’re going to be fine.
“Hard to talk about the game after something like that happens, but the guys played really hard.’’
Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, still wearing a splint on his right index finger, brought UM back from a 10-point second-quarter deficit by going 21 of 30 for 374 yards and five touchdowns — including one with 13 seconds left in the first half to give UM its first lead of 21-17. It was the first five-touchdown game of Van Dyke’s career, and according to ESPN, the first time a UM quarterback passed for five touchdowns against a top-25 team.
Cristobal said Van Dyke was “outstanding.”
“Credit to him. Credit to the offensive line. Credit to the wide receivers. I mean all those kick returners, they all made plays. He’s been an absolute awesome leader,’’ the coach said.
The game marked Cristobal’s first signature win since he became head coach last season, and stretched UM’s home winning streak to two games after losing their last five home games of 2022. The Canes last beat a top-25 team at No. 17 Pittsburgh in October 2021.
Miami rose to 2-0 in front of 48,792 raucous fans that filled the stadium with their roars and sounded like a much bigger crowd. “It’s the loudest it’s ever been since I’ve been here,’’ said safety James Williams. “Great atmosphere. Great culture. I love the fans and thank the fans for coming out.”
UM will undoubtedly be favored in their next two games (Bethune-Cookman and at Temple) and could go into their Atlantic Coast Conference opener undefeated on Oct. 7 at home against Georgia Tech.
Van Dyke had four big-time receivers Saturday, three of whom scored touchdowns.
Xavier Restrepo led all receivers with six catches for 126 yards.
Down 10-0, Van Dyke’s first 3-yard touchdown pass went to Colbie Young (six catches for 75 yards) to culminate a seven play, 75-yard drive.
Down 17-7, Van Dyke’s second touchdown pass of 52 yards went to Isaiah Horton to culminate a five-play, 75-yard drive.
And down 17-14, Van Dyke’s third touchdown pass of 11 yards went to Jacolby George (five catches for 94 yards and three touchdowns) to culminate a six-play, 75-yard drive just before halftime.
“I feel like everybody is putting in the work and the world is finally seeing it now,’’ George said.
In the third quarter, the Aggies opened with a field-goal drive to get within a point at 21-20.
But UM stormed right back with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by junior Brashard Smith to make it 28-20 at 8:55.
About two minutes later, Kinchens’ interception — sophomore quarterback Conner Weigman’s first of his career — led to a UM field goal for a 31-20 Miami lead.
Texas A&M drove for another touchdown with 2:29 left in the third quarter, but failed on the two-point conversion attempt and trailed 31-26.
The Aggies still had a chance to take the lead on their next possession, but UM cornerback Jaden Davis forced a fumble, which Kinchens recovered. Miami scored five plays later to make it 38-26.
Miami helped secure the victory with a 50-yard field goal by Andy Borregales with 6:28 left in the game. Texas A&M scored with about five minutes left, but Van Dyke’s 64-yard heave on third down landed in George’s arms, who made a man miss and ran into the end zone for the final score.
No way Cristobal will allow anyone to look past next week’s 7:30 p.m. game on Thursday (ACC Network) with the Wildcats — especially with all the mistakes committed by Miami to make the game closer than it should have been.
All 17 of Texas A&M’s first 17 points were precipitated by Miami errors — with both touchdowns basically gifted by the Hurricanes.
▪ The first mishap: a blocked UM punt on fourth-and-9 from the Canes’ 12. The Aggies took over at the UM 15 and scored three plays later on Weigman’s 1-yard rush to make it 7-0 two-and-a-half minutes into the first quarter.
▪ The second mishap: UM linebacker Francisco Mauigoa’s holding penalty on an incomplete Aggies pass (after Mauigoa’s unnecessary roughness penalty at the start of the drive). The play should have resulted in a Texas A&M punt, but the Aggies instead got an automatic first down and scored six plays later on a 24-yard field goal by Randy Bond. Texas A&M led 10-0 with 5:25 left in the opening quarter.
▪ The third mishap: UM receiver/specialist George’s fumble on a punt at the Canes’ 7-yard line. The Aggies recovered and two plays later Amari Daniels scored on a 9-yard rush to make it 17-11 at 13:11 of the second quarter. The play was eerily reminiscent of former Hurricane Tyrique Stevenson fumbling a punt last year and the Aggies scoring a touchdown three plays later in their eventual win at College Station.
As for Texas A&M, coached by Jimbo Fisher, the 3 ½-point favored Aggies fell to 1-1 after a depressing 5-7 season that matched UM’s record.