For those who tuned into ESPN's BCS Countdown on Sunday night, the matchup between Miami and Florida State was front and center. Commentators Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer and David Pollack openly mocked the Hurricanes, despite the team's undefeated record halfway through the season.
"The No. 7 ranking is a mirage. In my opinion they're not even a Top 10 team," Palmer said of Miami, while Pollack made it clear that Florida State is the stronger program. Davis ended the segment with a quip about Sebastian the Ibis running for cover mid-second quarter and all three laughed it up going into commercial break.
With that, welcome to the overall perception of the nation's seventh-ranked team.
Negatively-fueled words like "overrated" are being used to describe a scrappy Miami squad instead of the most-obvious choice: "overachievers."
|Miami Hurricanes' Weekly Ascension In The Polls (2013)|
|Date||Previous Week's Result||AP Rank|
|Week 2 - (Sept. 1)||Miami 34, Florida Atlantic 6||O.R.V.|
|Week 3 - (Sept. 8)||Miami 21, [#12] Florida 16||15|
|Week 4 - (Sept. 15)||BYE||16|
|Week 5 - (Sept. 22)||Miami 77, Savannah State 7||15|
|Week 6 - (Sept. 29)||Miami 49, South Florida 21||14|
|Week 7 - (Oct. 6)||Miami 45, Georgia Tech 30||13|
|Week 8 - (Oct. 13)||BYE||10|
|Week 9 - (Oct. 20)||Miami 27, North Carolina 23||7|
|Week 10 - (Oct. 27)||Miami 24, Wake Forest 21||7|
The Hurricanes have benefited from the carnage of college football over the past few weeks and coupled with a handful of fourth quarter rallies, a Top 10 ranking was achieved. But isn't that the name of the game in college football?
Play who's on your schedule, beat your conference foes, find a way to get the job done and simply survive.
As they say during March Madness and tourney time, "survive and advance." That's precisely what Miami has done en route to a 7-0 start, fueled by an early September upset of then-No. 12 Florida.
The Hurricanes are winning games they wouldn't have won in the past—that's the early storyline for UM this season. An early takedown of a ranked archrival, coupled with late-game rallies and finishing off Coastal Division competitors—it's proof that the Hurricanes are on the rise.
Miami opens as a three-touchdown underdog at Florida State, which is hard to debate based on recent dominating performances put on by the Seminoles.
Still, how can "The U" be considered overrated when playing up to its potential, finding a way to win week after week and on course for an ACC title game berth?
Miami and Florida State were both dominant for the better part of the 1980s and 1990s, but each took a step back over the past decade. Regarding the rebuilding process, the Seminoles have a two-year lead, mostly due to hovering NCAA sanctions for the Hurricanes, which as of last week are no longer an issue.
As a result, these two programs are on two completely different paths. Florida State has garnered national championship hype the past three years and finally looks like a contender. For Miami, Charlotte was the goal when the season kicked off, not Pasadena.
Until a conference title is captured, it's off base for UM to think bigger picture.
The Hurricanes self-imposed a postseason ban last season, sitting out the ACC Championship Game and a rematch against Florida State. As a result, this year's driving force was the quest for a conference crown with anything on top of that, a bonus.
"It would mean a lot for us just having an opportunity to get back to the glory days when they were winning everything, including conference championships," quarterback Stephen Morris said at the ACC Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C., in July, per the Miami Herald. "[I] keep drilling that in people's heads. 'Let us be the first team to win.' "
Even with a loss to Florida State in Tallahassee this Saturday night, Miami still controls its own ACC title game destiny, closing out the season with Virginia Tech, at Duke, Virginia and at Pitt.
As much as the Hurricanes fanbase clamors for a win over the Seminoles, the "game of the year" is next weekend's meeting with the Hokies. From there, Miami must continue its quest to beat middle-of-the-pack conference rivals who have derailed season after season since joining the ACC in 2004.
Seven games in, the Hurricanes have already matched last year's win total and have a legitimate shot at double-digit victories this season. Who would've predicted that scenario months back? Same can be said regarding going into Tallahassee undefeated in early November. Both are tremendous accomplishments for the Hurricanes.
ESPN College GameDay and a nationally televised prime-time kickoff, with all eyes again on Miami and Florida State. The grandest regular-season stage the game has to offer and precisely what the ACC was hoping for when welcoming the Hurricanes on board.
Saturday's game marks the first time these two proud programs have faced off undefeated since 2003.
Yet another clear indication that the Sunshine State rivalry is "back," even if equal footing hasn't quite been achieved.
Follow Chris Bello on Twitter @allCanesBlog
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