Miami started the season unranked, but thanks to a slew of upsets, the 6-0 'Canes are No. 7 in the latest AP poll.
The past two weeks of college football produced an avalanche of upsets. Big-name programs continue tumbling down the mountain, while those who dominate, take care of business or simply survive continue with their ascension.
Coming off a 7-5 campaign in 2012, Miami was unranked to start the season but shot up the polls after a Week 2 upset of No. 12 Florida.
Since then, the team has faced a few lesser foes as well as two ACC Coastal Division showdowns. Miami took on Georgia Tech and North Carolina in October, both of whom held second-half leads in their respective games. The Hurricanes came on strong late, stayed undefeated in conference play and remain on track for what could be a spectacular season.
Where the Miami Hurricanes Stand
Miami is ranked No. 7 in the first BCS standings, released Sunday evening. This is the Hurricanes' highest ranking since the 2005 football season.
|Record||AP Poll||Coaches Poll||S.O.S.||BCS Ranking|
ESPN.com / PhilSteele.com (S.O.S.)
Biggest Obstacles to a BCS Berth
Miami's biggest obstacle in the hunt for its first BCS berth since the 2003 season is itself. A lack of consistency has been the Hurricanes' biggest issue all season. If that can be overcome, the biggest roadblock then becomes a home showdown with Virginia Tech on November 9.
Miami heads to Florida State on November 2—the Seminoles are the second-ranked squad in the first official BCS standings—but in reality, that's a game the Hurricanes can lose and still control their own Coastal Division destiny.
Fall to Virginia Tech, and Miami will need some November conference upsets simply to reach the ACC Championship. Get to Charlotte, and that second meeting with Florida State—this time at a neutral location—will make the November 2 contest pale in overall meaning.
Where the Hurricanes Need Some Help
If Boston College can top Virginia Tech in Chestnut Hill on November 2, it will give Miami some divisional breathing room. Miami also needs perennial conference underachievers to stay the course, as Duke, Virginia and Pittsburgh have had their issues this year. The last thing the Hurricanes need is for any of those November foes to get hot down the stretch.
Regarding earning an at-large big, Miami would need Alabama to put a trouncing on Missouri in the SEC Championship Game, should the Tigers keep winning and represent the SEC East. It's a similar situation with second-ranked Oregon and sixth-ranked Stanford, who face off on November 7.
Both the Ducks and Cardinal are members of the Pac-12 North, and the winner will arguably meet 12th-ranked UCLA in the conference championship. Miami is better suited if Oregon keeps rolling, takes out Stanford in the regular season and then drops UCLA for the Pac-12 title.
Ninth-ranked Clemson getting another late-season loss would help Miami's cause, too. Barring a catastrophe with the Seminoles, the Tigers won't reach the conference championship, but they can sneak back into the at-large picture as a one-loss team.
The Big Picture for "The U"
Miami's strength of schedule took a hit when Florida lost its third game of the season by late October. As a result, the Hurricanes need future opponents to keep winning. If Miami can top Florida State and Virginia Tech, but the Seminoles and Hokies win out and remain one-loss teams, the 'Canes are in good shape heading into championship weekend.
Take care of the ACC—which would mean beating Florida State twice, as well as Virginia Tech—and a 13-0 Miami squad will see its strength of schedule rise, allowing The U to make its claim for a return to Pasadena—the site of its 2001 national championship and the Hurricanes' last title run.
Final Bowl Prediction
Barring some late-season magic allowing Miami to play its way into the national championship picture, or an at-large situation, the safe bet is to predict a Chick-fil-A Bowl berth.
Florida State looks like the team to beat in the ACC, a deserved designation after the dismantling of Clemson, the Tigers having been conference darlings all season after a season-opening upset of Georgia.
The X-factor in this equation is the Miami-Florida State rivalry and the fact that these familiar-with-each-other teams will face each other twice in a five-week span.
The ACC welcomed the Hurricanes into the fold hoping for many a late-season showdown between these longtime Sunshine State rivals, but paths never crossed.
After a nine-year drought, two monster matchups could be on deck, both with national implications for the first time in forever, leaving this chapter "to be continued."
Follow Chris Bello on Twitter: @allCanesBlog