Miami Football: Ranking the Hurricanes Toughest Games

David MayerCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2012

Miami Football: Ranking the Hurricanes Toughest Games

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    Much like it has been for the last few years, the Miami Hurricanes have decided not to play cupcake teams like a certain Florida team does every year—and I'm not talking about the Seminoles.

    Miami will go on the road to play preseason-ranked Kansas State and Notre Dame. Both teams are coming off solid seasons, especially Kansas State, who finished last season at 10-3.

    Besides the tough out-of-conference schedule, Miami will have to face the likes of Florida State and Virginia Tech.

    To make things worse, Virginia is looking to be a much better team while North Carolina State has been preseason ranked No. 25 in the CNNSI Top 25 Poll.

    Here is my ranking from the easiest to the hardest teams Miami will face this season.

No. 12: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats

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    When: September 15

    Where: Miami, FL

    The Miami Hurricanes played Bethune-Cookman last season in the first time in history with Miami easily winning, 45-14.

    Even though the score was lopsided, the first half of the game was anything but, as the Wildcats took a 7-0 lead into the second quarter. Miami scored 14 unanswered points in the second quarter and pulled away from the Wildcats in the third quarter.

    This season you can expect more of the same in this game as the Wildcats will have no chance for an upset.

No. 11: Duke Blue Devils

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    When: November 24

    Where: Durham, NC

    The return of Duke quarterback Sean Renfree should keep this game competitive as he is entering his third season with the Blue Devils.

    The only problem is that the Blue Devils have no other offensive weapons on the team. Last season their offense scored just 22 points per game, ranking them No. 93 in the country.

    The defensive will also struggle after losing All-ACC safety Matt Daniels to graduation.

    Even with the game being held in North Carolina this year, I believe the Hurricanes should be able to overwhelm Blue Devils' offense and pull out a convincing win.

No. 10: Boston College Golden Eagles

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    When: September 1

    Where: Chestnut Hill, MA

    Last season Boston College went into Miami and stole a victory from the reeling Hurricanes, 24-17. 

    Hurricanes quarterback Jacory Harris threw four interceptions while Eagles quarterback Chase Rettig was nearly perfect, completing 13-of-17 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

    Rettig is back this season for the Eagles but really hasn't had a productive career as he has just as many interceptions as he does touchdowns, 18.

    The Eagle offense took another big hit when their all-time leading rushing Montel Harris was dismissed from the team this spring.

    The Hurricanes' much-improved defense should be able to control the offense, and as long as Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris stays away from the interceptions, Miami should win this game.

No. 9: South Florida Bulls

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    When: November 17

    Where: Miami, FL

    Although I have the South Florida Bulls as the fourth easiest team on the schedule, it doesn't mean the Hurricanes won't get upset.

    Last season the Hurricanes were able to come out of South Florida with a victory thanks to a 36-yard field goal by Jake Wieclaw as time expired.

    Both defenses played amazing but the offenses struggled to put points on the scoreboard as the game ended with a score of 6-3.

    This season the Bulls will be much more competitive on the offensive side of the ball as they return B.J. Daniels for the fourth straight year at quarterback.

    Daniels limited his turnovers from the previous year and will have some playmakers at wide receiver this year.

    This will be a very hard game for the Hurricanes as they will not have the speed advantage they normally have against other teams.

    That was the case last year when the Hurricanes were only able to muster 57 yards rushing on 40 attempts.

No.8: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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    When: September 22

    Where: Atlanta,GA

    Although so many teams struggle with Georgia Tech's triple option, Miami is a team that doesn't.

    Every year the Hurricanes have one of the fastest teams in the nation, and this year will be no different.

    Even with the return of Yellow Jackets quarterback Tevin Washington, I just can't see the Hurricanes losing this game.

    In last season's contest, the Hurricanes limited the Yellow Jackets to just 134 yards rushing—182 yards under their average—in a 24-7 win.

    This season, the Hurricane defense will be even better and I honestly believe Miami comes away with the 'W'.

No. 7: North Carolina Tar Heels

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    When: October 13

    Where: Miami, FL

    You may not recognize North Carolina this year when you watch the Tar Heels play, not because of a weird Maryland-type uniform, but because they are making big changes on both sides of the ball.

    The Tar Heels new head coach, Larry Fedora, is turning a normally pro-style offense to more of a spread offense. The defense will be changing from a 4-3 base to a Duke-type 4-2-5 unit.

    North Carolina will have the athletes on the offensive side of the ball to make the transition early and could compete for the ACC Coastal title.

    Quarterback Bryn Renner returns alongside a plethora of talented offensive linemen who will make this offense very hard to deal with.

    The good thing for the Hurricanes is not only the game being at home, but the fact that the Hurricanes do pretty well against spread offenses.

No. 6: Virginia Cavaliers

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    When: November 10

    Where: Charlottesville, VA

    The Virginia Cavaliers are my sleeper pick of this list. I believe they have a loaded offense coming back and their defense was a lot better last year than previous years.

    In last year's game, the Hurricanes lost to Virginia 21-28 as the Hurricanes gave up far too many big plays.

    Virginia out-gained Miami 470-432 in total yards and shoved the ball down the Hurricanes' throat all game long.

    If Miami is able to limit the mental mistakes on defense, there is no doubt it has a chance for redemption, but if it allows Virginia to run AND pass like in last year's meeting, mark up another win for the Cavaliers.

No. 5: North Carolina State Wolfpack

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    When: September 29

    Where: Miami, FL

    Here is another scary team on Miami's schedule. North Carolina State returns one of the best quarterback in the ACC in Mike Glennon.

    Last season Glennon threw for 3,054 yards and 31 touchdowns for the Wolfpack as they finished the season at 8-5.

    The only negative thing I see on the Wolfpack's roster is at running back. They rushed for just 105 yards per game last year, No. 109 in the country.

    If they balance their offense a little better, they will be one of the best teams in the ACC this year.

No. 4: Virginia Tech Hokies

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    When: November 1

    Where: Miami, FL

    I don't care if the Virginia Tech Hokies are only returning three starting players on offense, they will win 10 games again this season, just like they have every year since 2004.

    Yes, you read that right, the Hokies have eight consecutive seasons in which they have won at least 10 games—incredible.

    Frank Beamer is one of the most unheralded coaches in America, and he will put another solid team on the field this season.

    Even though there is limited depth on offense, the Hokies will still have the services of stud quarterback Logan Thomas.

    Thomas threw for 3,013 yards and 19 touchdowns last season for the Hokies, while running for another 470 yards.

    There is only one thing you need to know about the defense—it returns nine starters. 

    So the Hokies will basically have the same defense they had last year, when they ended the season giving up just 17.6 points per game, seventh-best in the country.

No. 3: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    When: October 6

    Where: Chicago, IL*

    The only reason that I have Notre Dame ahead of Virginia Tech is because the Hurricanes are having to travel to Illinois for this game.

    That is a long trek, considering the Irish are only about 45 minutes away from Soldier Field.

    Not only is the long travel going to be an issue, but the fact that this game could possibly be played in colder temperatures doesn't bode to well for the Hurricanes.

    The Fighting Irish have a lot of talented players returning from an 8-5 season. The only problem they will face next season is the ridiculously hard schedule.

    Notre Dame has games against USC, Stanford, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Michigan. 


    To me, it's a toss-up game that could go either way. 

    *Game is at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL

No. 2: Florida State Seminoles

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    When: October 20

    Where: Miami, FL

    Yes, I put Florida State as the second-best team on the Miami schedule—bring the hate, Seminoles fans!

    Sorry, but I just don't think the Hurricanes will have an easier time in Kansas than they will at home against the Seminoles.

    Call me foolish, call me an idiot, it won't change my mind at all. Florida State is a great team and this is the year the Noles win the ACC—I truly believe that.

    The defense is unbelievable as it was fourth in the country in scoring defense, giving up just 15.1 points per game.

    The offense should be much-improved, especially at running the ball as it gets the services of Chris Thomas back. Thomas was supposed to be its No. 1 running back, but a back injury kept him out most of the season last year.

    The only real problem I see on the entire team is at special teams when it lost the services of Greg Reid.  Reid was a tremendous return specialist and will undoubtedly be missed.

    Other than that, this Seminoles team may finally live up to its lofty preseason expectations.

No. 1: Kansas State Wildcats

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    When: September 8

    Where: Manhattan, KS

    I know a lot of you think that Kansas State will not be as good as last season, when the Wildcats finished 10-3 and played in the Cotton Bowl, but believe me, they will be highly competitive.

    They have a tremendous offense lead by one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, Collin Klein.

    Klein threw for 1,918 yards and ran for another 1,141. He has tremendous field vision and is very quick.

    I understand that last season the Wildcats snuck up on teams, but it wasn't just a fluke. Head coach Bill Snyder is the real deal and turned around Kansas State in just a few short years.

    What really convinced me of ranking them the hardest team Miami faces all year is the fact they are playing in Kansas and that they return a total of 18 starters—including the kicker and punter.

    That is pretty amazing that a team can basically bring back the same team that helped the Wildcats win 10 games last year.

    There are two reason why Kansas State is the toughest game on the Hurricanes' schedule.

    First and foremost it's just the second game of the season for the Hurricanes and they will still be trying to find themselves.

    There are a lot of question marks on this young Miami team and one game against Boston College the week before probably won't answer them all.

    Besides playing Kansas State so early in the season, Miami will have traveled about 4,500 miles in a one-week times-span. Ouch.

    On the other hand, when Miami plays Florida State, it will be the Hurricanes' second game of a three-game homestand.

    Not to mention the game isn't until November, allowing the Hurricanes the practice and game-time experience they will need to face the Seminoles.