As the Canes football team wrapped up its spring yesterday in Fort Lauderdale, it’s time to look ahead to next fall. It should be an exciting and successful season in Head Coach Mark Richt’s first year. Here’s a look at what the Canes have coming up in the 2016 regular-season schedule.
FAMU, Sept. 3: This should be an easy first win for Richt, and it will allow the Canes to warm up and get adjusted to the new regime in a real game for the first time. This contest should draw a larger home crowd interested in seeing how junior quarterback Brad Kaaya fairs in a new offense. Look for Miami to begin the season with a blowout win.
FAU, Sept. 10: Expect a similar outcome for game number two. FAU will certainly be a step up in competition and Miami did have a close call with them last season, but a home game with a rejuvenated team should prove to be too much for the Owls.
Appalachian State, Sept. 17: While at face value this game may not seem like anything to worry about, the Mountaineers should give Miami its first true test of the season. Appalachian State won their conference and a bowl game last year, and is known to thrive in the few opportunities they get against Power Five opponents. This will be a tough first road game, but Miami should be able to pull away late and come away with a victory.
Georgia Tech, Oct. 1: Georgia Tech is always a tricky game because of the triple-option offense that they run. Fortunately for Miami, a bye week will give the defense two weeks to prepare for the option attack and the Canes should head into a rivalry game against FSU at 4-0.
Florida State, Oct. 8: As always, the matchup against FSU will be the biggest game on Miami’s regular-season schedule. Expect an electrified crowd and a close game against a top-five opponent. Unfortunately, the Canes still look to be one year away from getting the FSU monkey off their back. FSU will be loaded, as they come into the year returning 17 out of 22 starters while also adding the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class. Expect Kaaya and Miami to put up a great fight, but in the end expect to see FSU leave Sun Life Stadium with yet another win.
North Carolina, Oct. 15: The Tar Heels made it all the way to the ACC Championship game and ended the season as a top-10 team last year. This year should look much different for them, as they will be in rebuilding mode after losing a ton of talent on offense. Look for the Canes to avenge last year’s blowout loss and get back on track with a home win against UNC.
Virginia Tech, Oct. 20: A Thursday night game in Blacksburg, Virginia on a short week of practice usually spells trouble for opposing teams. This game will most likely be an exception to that tendency, as the Hokies will also be rebuilding after the retirement of legendary coach Frank Beamer. Brad Kaaya should put up big numbers and lead Miami to a victory in this one.
Notre Dame, Oct. 29: Another big game and top-10 matchup in a rivalry game for the Canes. While the Irish are losing 12 of 22 starters, Brian Kelly’s offense will still be electric. They have two Heisman contenders to choose from at the quarterback position in Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer, and will be quite a challenge for Miami’s defense. Combine that with possible freezing temperatures and the outlook becomes grim for Canes in this one.
Pittsburg, Nov. 5: Pitt hasn’t found much success in football since joining the ACC, and this year shouldn’t be much different. The Canes should be able to run away with this one as long as they can move past the previous week’s tough game against Notre Dame.
Virginia, Nov. 12: Virginia should look better than they have in previous years with a new head coach, but they are still a long way away from competing in the ACC. This one’s an easy conference win for Miami.
NC State, Nov. 19: NC State is a team that looks ready to compete in the ACC. They have gotten a lot of production out of their offense over the last few seasons, and an experienced defense should keep them in most every game. If the Wolfpack stays in the game early, its crowd could get going and turn Raleigh, North Carolina into a raucous environment. This one could go either way.
Duke, Nov. 26: After two successful seasons for the Blue Devils, David Cutcliffe and company will be forced to rebuild in 2016. No miracle will be needed this time around.
That would bring the Hurricanes to 9-3, or possibly 10-2 if Miami can find a way to beat NC State in Raleigh, North Carolina. That game will possibly be the most important on the schedule, as it could make the difference in an ACC Championship game appearance. Either way, it should be a successful first season for Mark Richt and will hopefully set the foundation needed to get the Canes back where they belong at the top of college football.