MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Miami Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke — the ACC’s rookie of the year last season and the No. 11 player on Mel Kiper’s Big Board for the NFL draft — was benched in the third quarter of a disheartening 45-31 loss to Middle Tennessee State on Saturday.
A week after not producing a touchdown in a 17-9 loss at Texas A&M, Van Dyke struggled again, this time against what appeared to be inferior competition. But the Blue Raiders — 25.5-point underdogs at kickoff — picked him off twice before he was ultimately pulled by first-year coach Mario Cristobal after completing 16 of 32 passes for 138 yards and one touchdown.
“They coached better than us. They played better than us,” Cristobal said. “They were better. We didn’t do a good enough job. There’s no excuse. Real men look in the mirror and do something about it and don’t allow any cracks to happen from the inside. We all came here for a purpose and a reason. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Van Dyke was replaced by Jake Garcia in the No. 25 Hurricanes’ loss. On his postgame radio interview, Cristobal did not commit to a starter for Miami’s next game versus North Carolina, which isn’t until Oct. 8.
“It was a poor job by me,” Cristobal said. “It was a poor job by our organization, and a credit to Middle for doing what they did.”
Garcia completed 10 of 19 passes for 161 yards for the Hurricanes, who heard plenty of boos from the fans who showed up to what was not even a half-filled stadium; most were long gone before the final whistle.
For Middle Tennessee State, big plays brought the biggest win in program history. Chase Cunningham passed for 408 yards and three touchdowns, including a 98-yarder to DJ England-Chisolm, and Middle Tennessee State stunned Miami for its first win in 21 tries against ranked opponents.
“It was a butt-kicking from the very beginning,” Blue Raiders coach Rick Stockstill said.
He wasn’t wrong. Middle Tennessee State (3-1) never trailed, forced turnovers on Miami’s first three possessions, stopped the Hurricanes (2-2) on downs on three other occasions and scored on passes of 69, 71 and 98 yards — and had another 89-yard pass in there for good measure.
England-Chisolm caught two passes — the first of them being a 71-yard touchdown in the first quarter, the other being the 98-yarder in the fourth — to help the Blue Raiders seal the upset.
Cunningham completed 16 of 25 passes, including a 69-yard scoring throw to Elijah Metcalf. Cunningham and Frank Peasant also ran for scores for the Blue Raiders, and defensive end Zaylin Wood returned an interception for a touchdown.
“I trust my guys to the end, and they won every single time,” Cunningham said.
Key’Shawn Smith returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown for Miami, which never escaped the early hole it dug.
“We looked at that team, ‘Oh, we’re going to win this game,'” Miami offensive lineman Jalen Rivers said. “So we came in obviously unmotivated … and we got punched in the mouth.”
Hurricanes defensive back Kamren Kinchens was more direct: “Everybody played horrible.”
Garcia entered midway through the third quarter and brought an immediate spark. He engineered a five-play, 72-yard touchdown drive — fueled by passes of 39 and 23 yards for Miami’s two biggest gains of the day to that point — and got the Hurricanes within 31-17 on a 1-yard rush by Thaddius Franklin Jr., the first of his two scores on the day.
The win was a long time coming for Stockstill, who played his college football at Florida State — Miami’s rival. The Seminoles went 0-2 in games that Stockstill played against the Hurricanes in 1980 and 1981.
Those games were close. This one wasn’t.
“A lot of people doubted us,” Blue Raiders wide receiver Jaylin Lane said. “But this shows all about our perseverance.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.