Although the Miami Hurricanes do not face a must-win game on Saturday, a victory against the Virginia Cavaliers is crucial in the team's hunt for the postseason.
As horrible as the notion is for Miami fans, the Hurricanes need to become bowl-eligible to make a nasty decision.
With impending NCAA sanctions against the school, a second consecutive self-imposed postseason ban will be strongly considered. Greg Cote of the Miami Herald believes that the unpopular decision should be made, much to the chagrin of the Hurricane faithful.
But heading into the final three games of the season, Miami is in control of its own destiny in the Coastal Division.
After starting 4-1, the Hurricanes lost three consecutive games to Notre Dame, North Carolina and Florida State before defeating Virginia Tech 30-12 last Thursday.
Finally, some momentum.
Freshman running back Duke Johnson, with an 81-yard kick return and 65-yard run, had his first game-changing plays since the Hurricanes' last win against North Carolina State.
A struggling—yet slowly improving—Hurricanes' defense earned three turnovers, including two in the red zone.
Quarterback Stephen Morris' ankle is feeling better every day, and head coach Al Golden is pleased with the junior's progression according to Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald.
Behind Morris, Johnson and an improving defense, Miami travels to Virginia as the slight... underdog?
According to oddsshark.com, the Cavaliers are favored by a point.
Mike London's team has not had a stellar season by any stretch of the imagination, but Virginia has momentum of its own after dismantling NC State in a 33-6 rout.
UVa is 3-6 on the season and therefore is fighting for its postseason life.
For this reason, Miami can expect the entire playbook from Virginia including trick plays and maybe even some new gadget formations.
The Cavaliers have also beaten the Hurricanes in each of the last two seasons.
I don't want to get too in-depth about those games because I, like many Hurricane die-hards, may need to run away from the computer as the name Jacory Harris is thrown about.
Remember when J12 was absolutely shellacked by Virginia lineman John-Kevin Dolce in 2010? The coaching staff ended up burning Morris' redshirt in the third quarter, and he nearly introduced himself to Hurricane nation with a bang.
His first appearance began with 1-for-10, -3 yards, 2INT stat-line. Down 24-0 with less than 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, he led the Hurricanes to 19 consecutive points in an eight-minute span before falling just short.
Back to 2012, this game is Morris' first crack at the team he made his collegiate debut against.
It won't be easy, though, as the Cavs' defense is 32nd in the nation allowing just 341 yards per game.
Virginia held the Wolfpack to 216 yards last week—the same team which Miami surrendered 651 yards earlier this season.
Based on season averages, Miami defeats Virginia 28-26. But taken from final scores of each team's previous three games, the Cavaliers take out the Hurricanes 21-19.
All of a sudden, the spread begins to make a little sense.
As if the facts haven't been confusing enough already, check out this stat.
In the Cavaliers' last four losses, the offense has more yards than the opposition's. Conversely, the Hurricanes have been outgained in three of the team's five wins.
A loss to the 'Hoos ultimately would not devastate Miami's chances to win the division. The Hurricanes could beat Duke and head to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game.
So should the school forgo the postseason?
Just win Saturday. Let's start there.