The first BCS rankings have been released, and the Miami Hurricanes have been excluded from those rankings as they have a 2-3 record over the course of the first half of the season.
All of Miami's losses to Maryland, Kansas State and Virginia Tech have been decided by 15 points. The Hurricanes are a mere handful of plays away from being 5-0 and ranked inside the Top 10.
From being stopped on the 1-yard line at the end of the Kansas State game, to the 19-yard touchdown run given up by the Hurricanes defense to Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas to ice the game for the Hokies, the 'Canes have had their share of heartbreaking, last-minute losses.
This time in the year in college football, the conference championship races start to heat up and the pretenders are weeded out from the elite programs.
Here is Miami's remaining schedule and one man's projection as to how the games will play out and what the Hurricanes' end-of-season bowl record and possible bowl destinations will be:
In this huge ACC matchup at Sun Life Stadium, the 22nd-ranked Yellow Jackets take on the suddenly-resurgent Miami Hurricanes.
This game is important to both teams in the ACC Coastal Division race, as a Miami win would ensure Georgia Tech two conference losses and would right the ship for the Hurricanes headed into a critical stretch.
Miami won last weekend in Chapel Hill for the first time in four tries, beating the Tar Heels by a score of 30-24 behind Jacory Harris' brilliant play and the defense tightening up at the last second to stop a North Carolina desperation drive.
Georgia Tech has the second-ranked rushing attack in the country, as their vaunted "triple-option" offense catches opponents by surprise and makes them play disciplined, lane-attentive football.
Led by QB Tevin Washington, the Jackets came up short against Virginia and will look to rebound against Miami's depleted defensive line, with leading tackler Micanor Regis suspended for his role in an altercation with UNC's Dwight Jones.
Prediction: A lot of pundits are picking Georgia Tech to rebound against the Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium. If Jacory Harris continues his precision passing, and Lamar Miller backs up his dissing of Georgia Tech's "boring" offense and rebounds from his off game against UNC, look for Miami to do just enough to win by a score of 30-27.
Another important ACC matchup for the Hurricanes, the Virginia Cavaliers shocked the country when they knocked off then-undefeated Georgia Tech to send Tevin Washington and the Jackets to their first loss of the season.
Miami will need to key on Cavaliers' QB Mike Rocco, as he is what makes the Cavs offense run with his precision passing, and they will occasionally use RB Kevin Parks out of the backfield.
According to ESPN.com's ACC blogger Heather Dinich, Virginia will probably be hurting on offense with the loss of senior WR Matt Snyder to a broken foot, which Coach Mike London said he will be out "several weeks."
This will be yet another important game in the Coastal Division that the Hurricanes will have to win in order to keep pace with Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech to possibly win their first ACC division title.
Prediction: If Virginia is able to move the ball against Miami's much-maligned defense, then the result will be much of the same from the Cavaliers' stunning victory against Georgia Tech. If Lamar Miller can get untracked and the defense can tighten the clamps on Rocco and prevent the big play, the 'Canes take control early and get ready for a dogfight and go to Tallahassee possibly leading the Coastal Division. Miami wins this game by a score of 33-17 behind Miller and the offense's prolific day.
Possibly the most anticipated game on the Hurricanes' 2011 schedule is when they travel to Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee for a yearly grudge match against Florida State.
The Seminoles were the preeminent pick as the team to win the ACC and possibly contend for a national championship, as they were ranked No. 5 in the country to open the season.
When the team welcomed the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners into town, they were exposed as pretenders as Oklahoma had their way with the Seminoles en route to a 23-13 victory for the visitors.
Last season, Miami was pasted at Sun Life Stadium by the Seminoles, losing a game that wasn't even close by a score of 45-17.
Florida State had 298 yards rushing against the Hurricanes in that contest, and they will look to get their running game established with RB Devonta Freeman to take pressure off of E.J. Manuel.
This matchup was originally planned to be the showcase game for the ACC and for these two teams to meet a second time in the conference championship game, but it hasn't gone as planned for either team—teams such as Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech have been more successful than either team.
Prediction: When it's Miami and Florida State, throw out the records and record books. This game is an old-fashioned street fight. Tensions and emotions run high as these two teams hate each other bitterly, as many times in the rivalry these games have decided national championship berths.
Miami is going to look to come right out and punch the Seminoles in the teeth behind a steady dose of Lamar Miller and Mike James. Just because Florida State has fallen from the Top 25 and from everyone's minds, don't count them out because a wounded animal is just as dangerous. E.J Manuel is going to look to pick on Miami's inexperienced corners and make some plays early in a hotly-contested game.
This game is so important to both teams that it is too close to call and could go either way, as have many 'Canes/'Noles tilts in the past. Miami has to have the edge, as they do just enough on offense to escape the hard-charging 'Noles by a score of 24-21.
Another team on the rise in the state of Florida, the South Florida Bulls, presents an out-of-conference challenge for the Hurricanes.
Led by QB B.J. Daniels, the Bulls can play with anyone. Junior RB Darrell Scott is good enough to take pressure off of Daniels in the passing and running game, and they will look to exploit Miami's much-criticized defense.
South Florida upended the Hurricanes last year to close the regular season by a score of 23-20 in overtime. The loss cost Randy Shannon his position as football coach, and Al Golden was hired to take his place for this season.
The Hurricanes have to play with better discipline than last year, because as they were rudely shown, a team cannot take an out-of-conference opponent lightly.
Prediction: Miami returns the favor to the Bulls in Tampa, winning behind Lamar Miller and Jacory Harris, with stellar play from the offense. They rolled up over 400 yards of total offense against the Bulls and earned some revenge for last year's setback, by a score of 35-17.
Miami ends the regular season with an ACC matchup at Sun Life Stadium with the Boston College Eagles. Boston College came over from the Big East at the same time Miami did, and they too have not really had much success.
Miami is going to look to close out its ACC schedule on a strong note after going 5-0 over the final stretch of the season, in order to tuneup for their first bowl game under coach Al Golden.
As is their key all season long, Miami is going to lean on darkhorse Heisman-hopeful RB Lamar Miller and try to take control of the game early and then let the defense do the rest.
Prediction: Miami takes control early and goes onto win their fifth conference game of the season to finish the ACC schedule at 5-2, and for an overall record of 9-3 by a score of 33-20. With some key help and tiebreakers over Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia, Miami ends up squeaking into the ACC Championship game against Clemson for their first appearance ever.
After a tumultuous ending to the scandal-ridden and controversy-filled 2011 season, the Miami Hurricanes finish 9-3 and make their first appearance into the ACC Championship Game, only to lose a heartbreaker to the Atlantic Division champion Clemson Tigers by a score of 40-37.
After everyone in the nation was counting them out, the Hurricanes use the victory at North Carolina as a springboard to capture their first ACC Coastal Division championship after going 5-2 in the ACC—proving to the world that, no matter the magnitude of distractions, Miami Football is indeed back and not going away quietly.
Jacory Harris is voted as the team's MVP, and Lamar Miller finishes second in a very close Heisman race. Miami also finishes the season ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in a very long time.
The NCAA comes down on the Hurricanes after the season, and forces Miami to give up scholarships over the next few years and gives the football program yet another round of probation, much to the chagrin of USC and Ohio State fans. Through all of that, the 'Canes stick together and reload for a possible shot at a sixth national championship next year.
If Miami wins the ACC Championship Game: They will head to the Discover Orange Bowl for the first time as an automatic BCS entrant since a victory over Florida State in the 2004 game.
If Miami should lose the ACC Championship Game: Miami would have a record of 9-4, and the Chick-Fil-A Bowl or the Hyundai Sun Bowl would scoop up the Hurricanes in a second as the executives from those bowls would see a resurgent Miami team that would be more than a match for anyone they play against.
If Miami should win six games to become bowl-eligible: One of the lower-tier bowls, such as the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl or the Belk Bowl would be a likely destination, as the 'Canes will most likely be at the bottom or near the bottom of the ACC.