Think back to just two weeks ago, to the widespread panic and angst that spread across Coral Gables like a wildfire. Fast-forward to now and just look at how a program’s fortunes turned around in an instant.
With Miami’s 27-21 win over Virginia, the Hurricanes locked up its bowl-eligibility, which is crucial for a program full of young talent searching for a new coach next season.
While the Cavaliers haven’t had much recent success on the football field, the team came into Saturday’s game having dominated the Canes over the past five matchups. Since 2010, Miami was 1-4 against Virginia, but this weekend was a whole different story.
People may shrug this game off as a win against an inferior squad, but considering the Canes were coming off an emotional high with their improbable win over Duke, just getting the victory was all that mattered.
“I kind of got a sense early in the week that they’d be ready,” Interim Head Coach Larry Scott said of his team’s focus on the Virginia game. “I think the challenge of [Virginia] who had beaten us four of the last five [games], the challenge of the last time we played at home [against Clemson] and the feeling they had – we had enough there to grab their attention.”
Looking ahead for the future, this win also means the young Hurricanes will get the crucial experience that comes with a bowl appearance. Getting to that bowl also provides the team with a chance at building momentum to take into the next season.
We saw the opposite of that last year when the Canes were disappointing in the Independence Bowl loss against South Carolina.
Another positive is the chance for prospective coaches (if Scott doesn’t stay) to get more film on the current roster and see what can be improved going forward. It might not sound important, but for any coach to get a better look at the players is only beneficial.
Despite being in charge for just two weeks, Scott already has complete control of the locker room and instilled a very clear message to his team.
“No. We’re still talking about our goal. Our goal was to win the Coastal [Division],” Scott said when asked if the team discussed bowl-eligibility after the win. “We’re not going to muddy the waters of what our main objective is. Our main objective is to win the Coastal. I want them to enjoy this hard-fought victory, but we started talking about some of the things we need to start getting taken care of early, to make sure we’re prepared to go out for this road test we’ve got next week.”
If the Hurricanes even want to think about that Coastal division, next week is absolutely vital. The Canes will travel back to the Tar Heel State to face a resurgent University of North Carolina (UNC) side. UNC is an impressive 8-1 on the season and is coming off an absolute demolition of Duke this past Saturday.
Miami has certainly shown a complete 180-degree turnaround in the last two weeks, but next Saturday could be a step back into a harsh reality against the talented Tar Heels.
In the meantime though, let’s enjoy this bowl eligibility and football team that’s going to go out there and fight and compete. Let’s enjoy where we are now because just two weeks ago, we couldn’t go any lower.