With the 2013 college football season rapidly approaching, fans are craving any and every taste of what is to come in what should be an invigorating year. Throughout this month, I've been releasing analysis on the schedule of each ACC school. As we wrap things up, let's take a look at the Miami Hurricanes:
Aug. 30 - Florida Atlantic
Sept. 7 - Florida
Sept. 14 - Open
Sept. 21 - Savannah State
Sept. 28 - at South Florida
Oct. 5 - Georgia Tech
Oct. 12 - Open
Oct. 17 - at North Carolina
Oct. 26 - Wake Forest
Nov. 2 - at Florida State
Nov. 9 - Virginia Tech
Nov. 16 - at Duke
Nov. 23 - Virginia
Nov. 29 - at Pittsburgh
Schedule obtained from the official website of Miami athletics
When the Hurricanes joined the ACC in 2004, they were seeking to build off four consecutive BCS bowl bids that included two national title appearances and one national championship crown.
Since then, however, Miami has failed to return to a BCS bowl game. The hype has been there at times, but the results have not. The Canes have yet to win the Coastal Division in eight tries, and they haven't notched the 10-win mark since splitting away from the Big East.
So it's safe to say The U will be mediocre again this year, right?
Head coach Al Golden has revamped the program, and he has done so at the perfect time. While Virginia Tech suffered a bit of a drop-off a year ago, the Hurricanes have successfully been able to right the ship, and the Coastal is anyone's for the taking.
Miami faces an early-season challenge in a showdown with the Florida Gators, but its conference schedule lines up favorably. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, arguably the two toughest divisional opponents the Canes have to face, must travel to Coral Gables. Golden's team does have to make trips to Chapel Hill and Tallahassee, but Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia and Pitt should all be wins.
It's definitely a manageable schedule, and the Hurricanes have the coach and the personnel necessary to get it done, but in doing so The U must do something it hasn't done in a decade: live up to the hype.
A Miami offense packed with fourth-year players meshes well with new offensive coordinator James Coley, and the Hurricanes outscore opponents with ease. Quarterback Stephen Morris hits the 3,000-yard passing milestone for the second straight year, and running back Duke Johnson meets his all-conference potential with excellent production in the run game.
Defensive ends Anthony Chickillo and Shayon Green perform well enough to boost a Canes defense that was pathetic in 2012, and Denzel Perryman provides some much-needed leadership to the linebacking corps.
Golden continues to hold this team together through looming NCAA sanctions, and Miami claims noteworthy victories over the Yellow Jackets and Hokies. In contests with the Gators, Tar Heels and Seminoles, the Hurricanes come away with two wins and ultimately finish 11-1, clinching their first ever division title.
Miami sacrificed a chance to play in the ACC Championship Game last year by self-imposing a postseason ban, hoping that the NCAA may see that as punishment enough and not add another in 2013. Unfortunately, it is announced early in the season that the Canes will have to sit out a bowl once again this year, and the players lose motivation.
The glaring issues on the field start with the defense. Losing linebackers Eddie Johnson, Gionni Paul and Gabe Terry in the offseason hurts, and the unit shows no progress from last year. Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Florida State all pad their scoring stats against Miami, and the Hurricanes quickly fall out of the race for the Coastal.
Morris and Johnson play well, but they are constantly pressured to outscore the opposition that's pummeling the Canes' defense. Time of possession becomes a major concern when the offense is unable to move the chains, and Miami can't win if its best players spend most of the game on the bench.
The doubters of this team are proven correct after a 6-6 year.
The stars are aligned for the Hurricanes to finish first in their division. If they can capitalize on their home games and split between FSU and UNC, then they are in ideal position.
Miami can't control what the NCAA is going to do, but it does have 12 matchups that are certain to be played. If the offense plays to its potential and the defense improves, Golden could lead this bunch over the hump to double-digit wins.
Also check out:
Schedule analysis for Georgia Tech
Schedule analysis for Virginia Tech
Schedule analysis for North Carolina
Schedule analysis for Duke
Schedule analysis for Pitt
Schedule analysis for Virginia
Schedule analysis for Clemson
Schedule analysis for Florida State
Schedule analysis for Boston College
Schedule analysis for Wake Forest
Schedule analysis for NC State
Schedule analysis for Maryland
Schedule analysis for Syracuse
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