No. 2 Miami rarely loses against lesser opponents

Updated: October 17, 2003, 3:33 PM ET

MIAMI -- The Miami Hurricanes have won plenty of big games. Four in a row against both Florida and Florida State, three straight over Virginia Tech and four of five against Nebraska.

Maybe as impressive, especially given the parity and penchant for upsets in college football, they've won almost all the other ones, too.

The second-ranked Hurricanes (6-0, 2-0 Big East) have won 33 consecutive games against unranked teams -- a streak they expect to extend Saturday against lowly Temple (1-5, 0-1) at the Orange Bowl.

"We win the games we're supposed to win," linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. "We also win the games we're not supposed to win. That's what makes us one of the top programs."

Miami is 132-7 (.949) since 1985 when playing teams out of The Associated Press college football poll. Temple has accounted for 11 of the victories. The Hurricanes have beaten the Owls every year since joining the Big East in 1992, winning by an average score of 45-11.

"If you've got better players, you should win those games," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "There's always upsets, but I think we've avoided some of those pitfalls."

Last year's game at Temple was the closest in the series.

The Hurricanes jumped out to a 21-0 lead, but a botched punt gave Temple the ball at the Miami 21. Tanardo Sharps scored a few plays later to make it 21-7. Jason Geathers fumbled on the ensuing possession, and Sharps scored on the next play, racing 16 yards to make it 21-14.

Miami pulled away in the second half, winning 44-21.

"We've played them fairly close the last two years," said Temple coach Bobby Wallace, whose team trailed 14-0 at halftime in 2001 before losing 38-0. "It's not like we don't think we can play with them. We're going to go down there and play the best we can.

"Our kids are excited about the opportunity to play against one of best teams in the country, if not the best. That probably helps, as far as getting them prepared. That's good, except you have to play them."

It's easy for most teams to get up for the Hurricanes, who have won 40 of the last 41 games and played for consecutive national championships. The 'Canes also have a 38-game winning streak in the regular season, a 26-game winning streak in the Big East, a 25-game winning streak at home and an 18-game winning streak on the road.

Beating Miami would define the season for most programs.

But given the recent success, it has become much more difficult for Miami to get motivated for lesser opponents. And at times, it shows.

The 'Canes needed a last-minute field goal to beat West Virginia earlier this season, they struggled at Rutgers last year, needed an interception on the final play to beat Boston College in 2001 and got a small scare from Louisiana Tech in 2000.

All unranked teams, but still victories.

"You try to respect everybody, but when you've got Florida State, it's a national stage, a top 5 team and two blimps over the stadium," Coker said. "Those types games are a special time. Then you've just got games. I don't think we ever get bored or spoiled by winning, but sometimes you forget how difficult it is to win football games.

"The fans think you just go out and beat these people. That doesn't happen. You have to try to let your players know that."

Miami went 72-0 against unranked teams from 1985 to 1995 before losing six times in four seasons that were affected by NCAA probation. The Hurricanes' last loss against a team out of the poll came Sept. 25, 1999, when East Carolina scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to knock off the Hurricanes 27-23.

Most of Miami's coaching staff remembers that game -- and the feeling they had on the plane ride home.

"Why would you ever take a week off on anybody if you know what's at stake and you're going to maybe get yourself out of a BCS bowl, get yourself out of a great season?" longtime offensive line coach Art Kehoe said. "Some people can lose and come back. We've got to protect it at the University of Miami. They don't want us there anyway. You think anybody wants us up at No. 1? We're like a bad rash.

"People look at the University of Miami like, 'They're a bad rash, they're still here and when are they going to go away? Can we get the bubonic plague to get rid of them?' We're not going anywhere. We're here to stay."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index