After a lackluster 2006 performance, a change in command and a prolonged quarterback battle, it is finally time to play some actual football. So how will the ‘Canes perform during this rebuilding year?
Will it be like last year, praying for a .500 record? Or will it be like 1987, when a young group coming off a deflating defeat in the Fiesta Bowl exceeded all expectations and won a national championship? Will it be somewhere in between? Only time will tell, but here are some predictions for how the year will pan out.
Sept. 1: Marshall v. Miami
Not exactly heavy lifting for the ‘Canes, the Thundering Herd are best known as the alma mater of Randy Moss and the subject of the movie, “We Are Marshall,” starring Matthew McConaughey. Expect Miami to win by at least two touchdowns. Anything less would be a disappointment.
Final Score: Miami 31 Marshall 10
Sept. 8: Miami v. Oklahoma
A rematch of the 1988 Orange Bowl, and the rekindling of an old rivalry, ‘Canes v. Sooners is expected to be a classic. Oklahoma is highly rated, but don’t undervalue a sparkling defense against a new backfield. If Miami can play its A-game (which, hopefully, it will against such a quality opponent), an upset is not out of the question.
Final Score: Miami 14 Oklahoma 10
Sept. 15: Florida International v. Miami
A year after the brawl, this game will most likely have the highest “eyes watching versus actual importance” ratio of any game all season. Like last year’s 35-0 debacle, expect a walk in the park.
Final Score: Miami 38 Florida International 7
Sept. 20: Texas A&M v. Miami
Another highly anticipated out-of-conference game for the ‘Canes, the Aggies will be a formidable opponent. On the rise in the always difficult Big 12 South, if Texas comes into Miami with a head of steam, they might be too much to overcome. Either way, expect a nail biter.
Final Score: Texas A&M 21 Miami 17
Sept. 29: Duke v. Miami
Just trust me, Miami’s going to win.
Final Score: Miami 31 Duke 10
Oct. 6: Miami v. North Carolina
This will be another game to watch, as Miami will go against a familiar opponent, former Miami head coach Butch Davis. After delivering Miami from purgatory and jetting to the NFL, Davis returned to college, this time leading the Tar Heels. Anticipate a surprisingly close game, but another Miami victory.
Final Score: Miami 21 North Carolina 17
Oct. 13: Georgia Tech v. Miami
Georgia Tech has been the bee in Miami’s bonnet for two years now, but with the absence of scrambling quarterback Reggie Ball, No. 2 NFL Draft pick Calvin Johnson and current Miami offensive coordinator Patrick Nix, the Yellow Jackets should go down without too much of a fight.
Final Score: Miami 24 Georgia Tech 14
Oct. 20: Miami v. Florida State
This is the one every true ‘Cane circles on their calendar. It’s the Seminoles and the Hurricanes at Doak Campbell Stadium. Moved from Labor Day weekend to its traditional point later in the year, both teams should be tuned up and ready for each other. Special teams will make the difference, and in that case.
Final Score: Miami 19 Florida State 16
Nov. 3: North Carolina State v. Miami
With Tom O’Brien switching alliances, moving from Boston College to the Wolfpack, expect a better game if he wasn’t there, but not that much better. Again, an in-conference game Miami should and needs to win.
Final Score: Miami 28 North Carolina State 10
Nov. 10: Virginia v. Miami
Al Groh is quietly building a solid program in Charlottesville. Despite the challenge, if Miami wants to finish the season strong, and an 800 pound gorilla to look forward to the following week, they’ll crave the win much more. Adding in that this is the last game in the OB, this one is almost “unloseable.”
Final Score: Miami 24 Virginia 14
Nov. 17: Miami v. Virginia Tech
FSU may be the rivalry game, but this one is the most important. If VaTech can stay on course, they may be unstoppable. It’s hard to pick against the Hokies in this one, but just remember 27-7. Again, expect a good game.
Final Score: Virginia Tech 31 Miami 27
Nov. 24: Miami v. Boston College
In the final game of the season, Miami travels to Chestnut Hill, Mass., a place that always seems to give them trouble. If these predictions hold up, Miami will likely be feeling very good about where they stand, and a victory over BC is likely.
Final Score: Miami 31 Boston College 14
There you have it; ten wins before the bowl. Are these predictions optimistic? Perhaps. But with such a strong defense, any game could be a winner. Miami will win at least one of its marquee matchups (Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Florida State, Virginia Tech), and maybe two. If things turn out the right way, it could be a very happy winter in Coral Gables.for a change.
Matthew Bunch may be contacted at email@example.com.