FIESTA BOWL Miami coach puts little stock in 13-point line for title game



Larry Coker used New England's upset victory in the last Super Bowl as proof.
PHOENIX (AP) -- Larry Coker never has lost a game as Miami's coach, and his top-ranked Hurricanes are 13-point favorites to make him a winner again in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.
Coker and Ohio State coach Jim Tressel were in Arizona on Thursday to talk about the Jan. 3 national championship showdown in Tempe.
"When it comes to a one-game playoff, which is what we're in right now, I don't think it matters a great deal who is the favorite or who is the underdog," Coker said. "What matters is how you play on game night."
He used last season's Super Bowl as an example.
"The Rams were heavy favorites against New England. New England had no chance to win the game, but they did," Coker said.
The No. 2 Buckeyes are 13-0 but won six games by a touchdown or less. Tressel said the Buckeyes are shrugging off the underdog role.
"I think our young people are confident that if they play well, they'll have a great showing for themselves," he said. "While they know that Miami is a great football team, I don't think they spend too much time looking at the spread. ... There's two teams left that are unbeaten, and in my mind that's more the story line than the spread."
Touched the trophy
Coker and Tressel posed with the new Fiesta Bowl trophy, which is nearly four feet high and features 2,400 diamonds, 18-karat gold, sterling silver and five shades of hand-carved marble.
Ohio State plans to arrive in Phoenix on Dec. 26 and Miami on Dec. 27. Despite the magnitude of the contest, both coaches want their players to enjoy their time in Arizona.
"The fact that it's for a national championship, I would like to think that won't steal away from the great experience that they'll have," Tressel said.
Tressel said he is modeling his Ohio State program after Miami's. He spent a day at Miami watching spring practice this year.
"Whatever business you're in, you want to study the people who do it best," he said. "Miami has done it so well for so long, and they were nice enough to let us come and visit."
The Buckeyes, who have not won a national title since 1968, will send tens of thousands of fans to Arizona, many of whom will be scrambling for tickets at the sold-out game.
Playing well on the road
At Miami, winning is simply expected, no matter how many fans for the opposing team are watching. The Hurricanes beat Nebraska 37-14 for the national championship last season in front of a sea of red in the Rose Bowl.
"For whatever reason, we've played extremely well on the road," Coker said, "sometimes in hostile environments. We've done a good job, I think, of really keeping it within the confines of the fields."
Miami, 12-0 this season, has won 34 in a row, the last 24 of them with Coker as coach. Giving a losing postgame speech would be a new experience for him.
"We really don't talk about losing. We talk and prepare for winning," Coker said. "But inevitably it will come sometime. When it does, we'll think of something to say, hopefully something classy."

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