The Miami Hurricanes weren't perfect, but their offense was good enough down the stretch to get the win against Boston College in Week 1.
The same cannot be said for what they did seven days later at Kansas State: What was once one of the most powerful teams in the ACC fell 52-13 to the then-No. 21 Wildcats. And just like that, the hope that this season would be different for the Hurricanes evaporated.
Still, Miami will get a chance to pad its wins total when Bethune-Cookman comes to town this Saturday. The Hurricanes will doubtlessly be the toughest team the Wildcats will face all season, and they will certainly do their part to challenge Bethune-Cookman's pristine record.
Here's all the information about where and when you can watch.
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
When: Saturday, September 15 at 12 p.m. ET
Listen: WQAM 560 AM (Miami), WELE 1380 AM (Bethune-Cookman)
Live Stream: ESPN3
Betting Line (via Bovada): Miami -43
Bethune-Cookman Injury Report (via USAToday.com)
No injuries to report.
Miami Injury Report (via USAToday.com)
- Defensive lineman Luther Robinson was held out of the game against Kansas State for disciplinary reasons but is expected to return in Week 3.
- Linebacker Gionni Paul is questionable for Saturday's game due to a knee injury.
- Defensive lineman Curtis Porter is questionable due to appendix surgery.
- Offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson is questionable for Week 3 due to a concussion.
- Linebacker Raphael Kirby is out indefinitely due to a leg injury.
There aren't many. Once upon a time, Miami was a perennial BCS contender, but it really hasn't been one since about 2005.
After the opening-week road win over Boston College, it looked like this might be the year the Hurricanes stood a chance of turning things around after so many mediocre or awful seasons.
But they blew the opportunity against Kansas State, leaving their fans to wonder once again if this is going to be another .500 season.
Needless to say, a loss to an MEAC opponent would solidify that fear.
What They're Saying
It's no secret that Miami's defense has been less than ideal in 2012. Even in the win over Boston College, the Hurricanes defense got off to a slow start and let the Eagles score two touchdowns in the first quarter and another one in the fourth to keep the game close.
In the loss to K-State, the problem was even more pronounced: The Hurricanes allowed 52 total points and a whopping three touchdowns in the final quarter alone, when the game was already out of reach.
According to the Associated Press, via the South Bend Tribune, Miami has allowed the most points and yards among teams from the biggest conferences in college football. It comes down to 84 points and 1,035 yards allowed in the first two weeks.
An easy game against an MEAC opponent should be a good opportunity to start rectifying that problem.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats may not be a big-time opponent, but they're pretty big-time in their own world. According to CBS42, Bethune-Cookman's early success has landed it atop the HBCU major college football poll, coming out on top of the likes of Tennessee State and Norfolk State.
Bethune-Cookman Player to Watch
The Wildcats' 27-14 victory over South Carolina State can be largely attributed to one guy: defensive back Dion Hanks, who reeled in two interceptions to solidify the win for Bethune-Cookman.
And Hanks was rewarded for his efforts on Monday, as the MEAC announced that he was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Week.
According to the school's official athletic site, the first interception led to a scoring drive that tied the game in the first half, and the second was an end-zone pick that stopped South Carolina State's final drive.
Perhaps Hanks can show the Miami defense a thing or two about how to get the job done.
Miami Player to Watch
There haven't been a ton of positives for the Hurricanes in the aftermath of the loss to K-State—even on offense. No receiver tallied more than 61 yards in the loss, and no running back rushed for more than 27 yards.
Who is your pick to win?
But on Saturday, the play of junior quarterback Stephen Morris was encouraging. Though he didn't throw any touchdowns, he didn't throw any picks, either, and he finished with 215 yards, a 73.1 completion percentage and a QB rating of 142.5.
The week before, against BC, he threw for 207 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Morris played considerably better against Kansas State than he did against BC, despite the much higher level of competition. If he keeps moving along this trajectory, he could actually give the Hurricanes a chance.
Not too long ago, the Hurricanes were built upon a rock-solid defense. So what happened? And will it ever get better?
Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio thinks so. After Monday's practice, he told Michael Casagrande of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that this young core just needs time to mature.
He told Casagrande:
When we get this thing turned, these guys are going to be good for a while. We're working each day to get it turned. And when we get it turned, there's going to be nobody leaving the team for a while.
The only problem is, anyone who cares about the Hurricanes isn't going to be happy about waiting around for this unit to improve. This is a fanbase that expects greatness now.
Unfortunately, though, waiting seems to be the only option.
Prediction: Miami Wins
There is virtually no way Miami can be overmatched on its home turf by an MEAC opponent. This team isn't completely incapable; it did, after all, register an opening-week ACC road win over a team that has historically been a tough matchup.
This game against Bethune-Cookman is exactly what the Hurricanes need right now. It will be a nice change of pace after two straight weeks of major-conference opponents to open the season.