The 2011 college football campaign is almost upon us. Auburn is the defending national champion, but there are alot of teams that could be worthy of catching the Tigers.
Oklahoma, Florida State, LSU and West Virginia are just some of the teams in the super early discussions as the front-runners for the 2012 BCS National Championship game to be held in New Orleans.
The BCS has been a huge source of controversy, as they routinely shut deserving teams out of college football's marquee championship game.
One notable example of such controversy is Miami losing out on a shot at the 2000 national championship game. The Hurricanes had beaten Florida State, who were the beatable underdogs that were selected to challenge the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners in the Sugar Bowl.
Miami had a down year in 2010, going 7-6 and losing games to ACC rivals Florida State and Virginia Tech and losing for the first time ever to South Florida. The Hurricanes lost their Sun Bowl matchup against Notre Dame by a score of 33-17.
Here are five predictions for the Hurricanes heading into the 2011 season:
Stephen Morris was brought in to challenge incumbent starter Jacory Harris for the starting quarterback position.
He was a part of a stud recruiting class that Randy Shannon signed in 2010 and was viewed as the next great quarterback to come out of Quarterback U.
In limited playing time while Harris was recovering from a concussion, Morris flashed the potential that made him such a highly touted recruit.
Jacory Harris has been criticized for his poor decision-making, as he led the country in interceptions in 2010, and a lot of fans have been calling for him to be benched.
Stephen Morris has looked good in the spring practices, and I believe that he gives the Hurricanes the best chance to win.
I predict that Morris will beat out Harris for the starting job and be the team's starting quarterback on opening day.
Lamar Miller is being talked about as possibly being the 'Canes starting running back as he showed flashes of brilliance in the spring practices.
He comes in a long line of Hurricanes' running backs that have been highly touted during their time in Coral Gables. Willis McGahee, Edgerrin James, Frank Gore, Jarrett Payton are just a few names that have been highly productive runners for the 'Canes.
Miller has a combination of speed and elusiveness that has seen college products such as LaDainian Tomlinson, Steve Slaton and Chris Johnson succeed and play at a high level in the NFL.
In any offense in any level of competition, it is my belief that a strong running game controls the tempo of the game. An effective running game controls the time of possession and enables a team to impose it's will, and keeps the opposing offense off the field.
The Hurricanes should become more of a balanced offense with an emerging star in Miller, and it should take the pressure off of Jacory Harris/Stephen Morris at quarterback.
It is my prediction that Miller will have a monster year and will be discussed as a front-runner for the Heisman trophy.
Since coming to the ACC in 2004, the Hurricanes have not even been close to capturing the Coastal Division. The division has been ruled by the Virginia Tech Hokies as they have won four ACC conference championships in that time span.
In the Big East, Miami was easily the class of the conference as they amassed a record of 97-12 with nine conference championships from 1991-2003.
They haven't fared that well in the ACC. They compete in the same division as Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Duke and North Carolina.
The team has had the tendency to give away games at critical times, which has cost them in terms of division title contention.
With an easier schedule, I believe the Hurricanes have the potential and talent to win their first ACC division title, and I am making that my third bold prediction for 2011 for the boys in Coral Gables, FL.
Since the heartbreaking yet controversial loss to Ohio State in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, the Hurricanes have not been within shouting distance of the BCS or any of the premier games reserved for college football's elite.
The Discover Orange Bowl is reserved for the ACC Champion, unless that team is No.1 in the BCS rankings then they would be in the national championship game.
The Orange Bowl has been visited quite frequently by the Virginia Tech Hokies as they have captured four of the conference's championships and they have compiled a record of 1-3 in those contests.
The Hurricanes have the talent in place to win not only the Coastal Division, but they have the talent to beat any of the teams in the Atlantic Division to capture the program's first ACC conference championship to earn the right to travel to the Orange Bowl.
My fourth prediction is that Miami wins the ACC title in a close game over their hated rivals the Florida State Seminoles and earns the right to their first BCS game since the loss in the 2003 national championship game.
Miami's 2011 schedule is as follows:
9/5/2011 At Maryland (ACC)
9/17/2011 Ohio State
9/24/2011 Kansas State
10/08/2011 at Virginia Tech (ACC)
10/15/2011 at North Carolina (ACC)
10/22/2011 Georgia Tech (ACC)
10/27/11 Virginia (ACC)
11/05/2011 Duke (ACC)
11/12/2011 at Florida State (ACC)
11/19/2011 at USF
11/25/2011 Boston College (ACC)
12/03/2011 ACC Championship Game
The Hurricanes' schedule has plenty of winnable games.
The game against Ohio State has recently lost some of it's luster with the dismissal of Jim Tressel and the subsequent declaration for the NFL by quarterback Terrelle Pryor after the scandal surrounding the university had intensified.
The ACC schedule is always brutal, as the 'Canes have dates at Lane Stadium and Doak Campbell Stadium, which are always tough places to play.
I predict that the Hurricanes' 2011 will be: 9-3, winning the ACC Coastal Division in a tight race with Virginia Tech, and winning the ACC Championship game in a tight bout for survival against Florida State.