Miami Football: 4 Biggest Obstacles Between the Hurricanes and an ACC Title
The Miami Hurricanes won a share of the Coastal Division title in 2012, but the 2013 version of the ‘Canes want to win an Atlantic Coast Conference title.
A conference championship certainly won’t come without a fight from the eight ACC opponents on the schedule starting with Georgia Tech on October 5 at Sun Life Stadium.
Head coach Al Golden will try to have his Miami team prepared for each game, but four teams pose the most difficult matchups to the ‘Canes.
No one ever said winning a conference championship would be easy, so the Hurricanes will have to win a couple of key games to achieve that goal.
North Carolina Tar Heels
Miami has its first taste of a game outside the state of Florida in the 2013 regular season with a showdown in Chapel Hill against the Tar Heels.
The Thursday night game will be nationally televised on ESPN, and UNC has beaten the 'Canes two of the last three times at Kenan Stadium.
While the Heels will no longer have sensational running back Giovani Bernard, senior quarterback Bryn Renner will return in 2013, and he helped UNC beat Miami 18-14 at Sun Life Stadium last October. Additionally, North Carolina returns 15 starters overall with six on offense and nine on defense.
Miami and UNC shared the Coastal Division title last year, but neither team could play in the ACC Championship Game due to self-imposed penalties and sanctions, respectively.
If 2012 was any indication—and it was in my eyes—the October 17 contest in Chapel Hill will be a crucial factor in deciding the ‘Canes' ACC title hopes.
Florida State Seminoles
The Florida State Seminoles won the ACC last season and proceeded to demolish Northern Illinois 31-10 in the Orange Bowl.
Jimbo Fisher may have lost his quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft, but the much-heralded Jameis Winston will take over for the ‘Noles.
Not only that, but Florida State always has a top-notch defense for its opponents to battle. Last season, FSU ranked second in the nation in total defense.
As has been the case for the last three seasons especially, the Seminoles will be a huge obstacle for Miami on the road to an ACC title.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Due to ACC schedule changes to accommodate new arrivals Syracuse and Pittsburgh, the ‘Canes host Virginia Tech for the second consecutive season. This matchup, though, will take place the week after Miami clashes with FSU.
Virginia Tech may have had a bad year in 2012, but senior quarterback Logan Thomas is a big play waiting to happen on every down.
Thomas had a 73-yard touchdown run in the Hokies’ 30-12 loss to Miami last season, and his dual-threat ability will be a huge factor in this season's game.
Between Thomas' playmaking prowess and a possible letdown from a rivalry high the week before, Virginia Tech is a massive obstacle the 'Canes need to avoid.
Pittsburgh never won an outright title in the, uhh, powerhouse... Big East Conference, and the ACC will not be a different story for the Panthers right away.
However, the ‘Canes must travel to Heinz Field the day after Thanksgiving and will have to battle both Pitt and the elements.
It may simply mean the game is cold, but the weather on November 29 in Pittsburgh could be snow, and Florida boys do not like snow.
The most recent time Miami played in “brutal” weather was against Notre Dame last season, and the ‘Canes lost by a mere 38 points.
Miami’s regular season finale, quite possibly, will decide if the 'Canes will go to Charlotte for the ACC Championship, and the boys from Pitt and their hometown weather will attempt to keep Miami from an important game the following week.