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No. 9 Louisville tops Miami 38-31 to clinch spot in the ACC championship game

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (鶹ýapp) — Louisville left with the Schnellenberger Trophy. The Cardinals now can eye a bigger prize.

Jack Plummer threw three touchdown passes, the last of them a 58-yarder to Kevin Coleman with 4:17 remaining, and No. 9 Louisville hung on at the last second to clinch a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game by beating Miami 38-31 on Saturday.

Coleman ended up wide open after Miami defenders Te’Cory Couch and Jaden Davis collided at full speed as the play was developing, and he went down the right sideline with the go-ahead score for the Cardinals (10-1, 7-1 ACC, No. 10 CFP). It’s the first ACC title game berth for the Cardinals, who’ll play Florida State in Charlotte on Dec. 2 for the league crown.

“This is a big win,” said Louisville coach Jeff Brohm, who returned to his alma mater after taking Purdue to the Big Ten Conference title game a year ago. “To come down to Miami and win a game with a lot riding on it, it’s a great feeling.”

Plummer finished 24 of 37 for 308 yards for the Cardinals, those catches getting made by 12 different receivers. Offensive lineman Trevonte Sylvester had a touchdown catch, as did Nate Kurinsky.

“We’re trying to find any way possible to score,” Plummer said.

Isaac Guerendo had 93 rushing yards and a score for Louisville, and Evan Conley — a quarterback who hasn’t thrown a pass since 2021 — came in to score on a keeper for the Cardinals.

There were 176 voters in the ACC preseason poll, and none picked Louisville to win the conference.

“Nobody expected us to be here,” Louisville cornerback Quincy Riley said.

Mark Fletcher rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns for Miami (6-5, 2-5 ACC). Van Dyke, back in the starting role after freshman Emory Williams got hurt in last week’s loss to Florida State, completed 24 of 39 passes for 327 yards.

The last 45 of Van Dyke’s yards came on the game’s final play, when his Hail Mary from midfield was batted around and ended up in the hands of Xavier Restrepo — who was tackled at the 5, with no time left.

Restrepo finished with eight catches for 193 yards, by far a career best. Miami also had a 4th-and-goal from the Louisville 3 with 1:29 left, but Van Dyke’s pass sailed just out of Jacolby George’s reach in the end zone.

“Close isn’t good enough,” Miami coach Mario Cristobal said. “Credit to their offense. They did some things that were very challenging. We’ve got to find a way to get better.”

The added bonus for the Cardinals: possession of the new Schnellenberger Trophy, a bronzed pair of actual cowboy boots that Howard Schnellenberger — who coached both Miami and Louisville — wore during his career. Brohm accepted the trophy from Beverlee Schnellenberger, the wife of the coach who died in March 2021.

“He gave a lot to our university, gave a lot to Miami, gave a lot to a lot of other places,” Brohm said of Schnellenberger, whom he both coached for and played for. “Because of him, all these programs are relevant.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Louisville: The Cardinals were the second FBS team this season to miss a field goal of closer than 30 yards and an extra point in the same game; Kansas State did it against UCF on Sept. 23. Louisville kicker Brock Travelstead missed a 24-yarder, then had a PAT blocked, both in the second quarter. Nick Lopez came on in the third quarter and kicked a 40-yard field goal for a 23-21 lead.

Miami: Kam Kinchens, an All-American last season after intercepting six passes, got his fifth interception of the year on Saturday. The 11 interceptions in Kinchens’ career tie for eighth-most in Hurricanes history and are the most by a Miami player since Sean Taylor had 14 picks from 2001 through 2003.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Louisville likely needs a lot of help to get into the College Football Playoff, but the Cardinals still have hope. A rivalry game next week and then the ACC title game will give Louisville two more chances to make a serious impression.

UP NEXT

Louisville: Host Kentucky on Nov. 25 to end regular season.

Miami: Visit Boston College on Friday in ACC finale.

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