It’s been a long time since “The U” dominated college football the way the Miami Hurricanes did from 1983-92 and again from 2000-03. The ‘Canes joined the ACC in 2004 and promptly fell off the radar. The program hasn’t been to a major bowl game since the Orange Bowl that followed the 2003 season. They haven’t even won the Coastal Division of the ACC.
Now, with the November schedule looming, Miami is back on center stage—undefeated and preparing for consecutive home games against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame that will tell us if these ‘Canes are for real as a national contender.
Miami has been mostly under the radar. The oddsmakers in Las Vegas aren’t really buying in. Miami’s 40-1 price to win the national championship ties them for 11th in the country—behind seven teams that have already lost a game and more on par with two-loss Auburn (50-1) that no one takes seriously as a title contender.
The skepticism is due to the fact the Hurricanes have mostly won ugly. The wins over Florida State, Syracuse, Georgia Tech and North Carolina have all been by eight points or less. Beating FSU looks considerably less impressive every week. The problem has been with the offense.
Miami’s offense ranks 42nd in the nation in points scored. Quarterback, Malik Rosier, has some big-play capability and stays away from mistakes, but his 57% completion percentage is a little inefficient in this day and age. Rosier also banged up his shoulder last week in North Carolina and while he’s expected to play, no one is quite sure what to expect.
What the Hurricanes can do is play defense. This side of the ball ranks 20th in the country and the lineup is sprinkled with playmakers. Chad Thomas at defensive end is well-regarded by NFL scouts. Trent Harris on the other edge has taken advantage and been a playmaker. Demetrius Jackson anchors the interior of the line and can also make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Michael Pinckney is a playmaker at linebacker. Dee Delaney at corner will play on Sundays. And if you throw away from Delaney, the other corner, Michael Jackson, already has four interceptions.
That defense might be enough. Miami will have homefield in this two big games. Virginia Tech is good, but not great. I suspect the same is true of Notre Dame, although the Irish seem to be gaining steam each week.
Making the College Football Playoff still looks like a longshot—if Miami sweeps these two games, a home game at Virginia on November 18 is no gimme and neither is a Black Friday visit to Pitt. To say nothing of a possible ACC Championship Game date with Clemson.
But if the Hurricanes get as far as the ACC title game, they’ll be in a position to end their major bowl drought and at least get a ticket to the Orange Bowl. Most important, they’ll have ended their improbable 0-for-13 run in pursuing Coastal Division titles, a possibility no one remotely considered when they joined the ACC.