Miami coach Dennis Erickson says his team may have to work off some Christmas turkey, but otherwise is ready to meet No. 16 Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl.

The 10th-ranked Hurricanes arrived in Arizona on Sunday to begin preparing for the meeting between the two teams, both 9-2.The Wildcats have been arriving in the area over the last few days since it is just a two-hour drive from Tucson and some players have family in the Phoenix area.

Erickson said the last meeting between the two schools - Miami's 8-7 win at home in 1992 - has shown the Hurricanes must take the Wildcats seriously.

"I think they came alive against us last year in Miami and from that time on not very many people have moved the ball consistently," Erickson said. "It's just a great defensive team. The thing about them is you can't get anything consistent going against them because they play that eight-man front and come after you and do a lot of different things."

Miami escaped with the victory last year after Arizona kicker Steve McLaughlin missed a 51-yard field goal on the game's last play.

"Revenge is not a motivator in this game," Arizona coach Dick Tomey said. "This team is different. Last year's game was just that. Miami didn't think U of A could win last year but now have a respect for the program and will not take us lightly like last year. But that game changed this team. It changed how the team viewed itself and how the country viewed the team."

Arizona, which is 14-5 since the Miami loss, went on a five-game winning streak after the loss and started this season 7-0 before falling to UCLA and then getting knocked out of the Rose Bowl race in a loss to California. A victory over arch-rival Arizona State gave Arizona a share of the Pac-10 crown, but UCLA got the Rose Bowl berth.

View Comments

The Hurricanes finished second to unbeaten West Virginia in the Big East and for the first time since 1985 is not in the national championship picture.

"That's over and done with. You can't look back. Maybe we could have had one (a national title game) here if things had turned out right," Erickson said. "But we're here to play a good Arizona team and we want to end up with 10 wins."

The game figures to be a defensive battle with Arizona's second-ranked defense giving up less than a yard per rush and Miami's fifth-ranked unit which allowed just 12.5 points a game.

"Miami's defense is their one great constant and if points allowed determines quality of defense, and I believe it does, then Miami is as good as we are," Tomey said.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.