AP Top 25 Takeaways: A breakthrough for Miami; An ACC statement vs. SEC; Colorado is no fluke

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Last September’s Texas A&M-Miami game was a slog that portended poor disappointing, losing seasons for both programs.

A little more than a year later, the Aggies and Hurricanes played a game that barely resembled the same sport, one that should bring hope for both programs — and maybe a real breakthrough for coach Mario Cristobal and Miami.

The Hurricanes broke a five-game losing streak against Southeastern Conference teams, running away from No. 23 Texas A&M 48-33 on Saturday in one of the most encouraging performances by Miami of the last decade.

“We work hard, we practice hard, we train hard,” Cristobal told reporters. “We felt if we’d eventually eliminate mistakes we’d take control of the game.”

The celebration of Miami’s biggest nonconference victory since the ‘Canes pounced on Notre Dame in a deafening Hard Rock Stadium in 2017 was tempered by a scary late-game injury to All-America safety Kamren Kinchens, who was carted off on a stretcher.

Cristobal said the initial report he received on Kinchens was positive.

There is no way to overstate how bad Cristobal’s first season was at Miami last year. The Hurricanes didn’t just finish 5-7 but they had a series of embarrassing performances and team chemistry bad enough to be visible.

Everything about the Hurricanes looked different against the Aggies, starting with Tyler Van Dyke, who passed 374 yards and five touchdowns. Miami has discovered weapons in Jacolby George (three touchdown catches) and Brashard Smith (98-yard kickoff return).

The offensive line, bolstered by members of a top-10 recruiting class, held strong against an Aggies’ D-line loaded with blue-chippers.

They helped erase an early 14-3 deficit,

“I think last year, I think we would have quit, honestly,” Van Dyke told reporters.

The Hurricanes victory also capped a huge opening two weeks for the Atlantic Coast Conference against the SEC. The ACC went 4-1, including victories against LSU and South Carolina. The last time the ACC had four wins in an entire a season against the SEC was 2017.

As for the Aggies, it will be tough to sell morale victories to the folks in College Station after going 5-7 last season.

Coach Jimbo Fisher seems to have an offense now, coordinated by Bobby Petrino and led by Conner Weigman (336 yards, two TDs and two picks) and Evan Stewart (11 catches for 142 yards). That’s the good news.

The bad: A&M is 3-9 in its last 12 games against Power Five teams.

DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS

In front of a full-house at Folsom Field, Deion Sanders and Colorado showed last week’s rousing upset at TCU was no fluke.

Shedeur Sanders and Co. turned it on in the second half to rout of old Big Eight rival Nebraska and set up a huge rest of September for the No. 22 Buffaloes.

Colorado will be a substantial favorite at home against rival Colorado State next week before going to No. 13 Oregon the following week. No. 6 Southern California comes to Boulder after that.

The more notable story in Boulder on Saturday was the other team with a famous first-year coach.

Matt Rhule is taking a different approach to rebuilding Nebraska and there are already signs that, much like at his other college stops, the Huskers might a step back before they start moving forward.

Rhule was hoping to win the lottery with Georgia Tech transfer Jeff Sims at quarterback. Sims has four-star pedigree and athleticism to make something out of nothing, but he has been a turnover machine.

The Cornhuskers’ offense is bereft of big-time players. The defense shows some promise, but not nearly enough to make up for the offense.

Rhule has talked a lot about how Nebraska is in so much better shape than the previous programs he took over at Temple and Baylor. That might be true, but his builds tend take a minute. Temple was 2-10 in Rhule’s first season. Baylor was 1-11. Both took big leaps in Year 2 and won double-digit games in Year 3.

“I think we’re better than we’re showing. But what does that mean? It’s just words,” Rhule said. “I told the team, ‘We’re going to get this right.’”

Nebraska fans can forgiven a lack of patience after six straight losing seasons under Mike Riley and Scott Frost. The Huskers have home games against Northern Illinois and Louisiana Tech the next two weeks, but a quick fix doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

AROUND THE COUNTRY: Virginia returned to Scott Stadium for its first game since the shooting death of three teammates last November. The Cavaliers looked as if they might have a storybook return, grabbing a 35-24 lead against James Madison in the third quarter when Mike Hollins, a survivor of the shooting, scored a touchdown. The Dukes pulled out the win with a late touchdown, but Virginia might have found something to build on in freshman quarterback Anthony Colandrea. … Thunder storms in ACC country wreaked havoc with the early part of the day’s schedule. Games at North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College and Miami all had delays. No. 10 Notre Dame’s 45-24 victory against the Wolfpack was delayed early on for 1 hour, 45 minutes. Sam Hartman, in his fourth career start against NC State after three while at Wake Forest, helped the Irish snapped the Pack’s streak of 16 straight games holding opponents under 30 points. … No. 12 Utah improved to 2-0 without starting quarterback Cam Rising by rallying from behind to win at Baylor. Utah nearly brain-freezed away the victory in the final 20 seconds, and may have caught a little bit of a break on non-called pass interference on the last. Still, the two-time defending Pac-12 champs now get a break next week with Weber State before diving into the conference slate, maybe with Rising ready to go. … I owa beat rival Iowa State in a typical CyHawk affair. The Hawkeyes had a Pick-6 and a blocked field goal. After two games the Hawkeyes are averaging 22 points per game. The magic number for offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz to ensure he keeps his job is 25.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

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