Does Miami football have what it takes to get to the ACC Championship game?
This year, the two best teams record-wise will play in the 2020 ACC Championship game in Charlotte, North Carolina. Because the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is playing as full-time football members for this season, the Power 5 conference has temporarily dissolved divisions to include the typical national independent program in a 15-team conference.
All 15 teams will play 10 conference games (five home, five road), as well as a non-conference game. This 11th game will be played in the home state of the ACC team in question. This was originally set up to allow four of the ACC’s SEC East rivalries to continue, but the SEC wasn’t buying into that this season. Let’s take a look at who the ‘Canes are up against and how they should do.
Game 1: vs. UAB Blazers (Sept. 10)
Miami will take on the UAB Blazers out of Conference USA as the ‘Canes lone non-conference game. Though the Blazers are well coached by Bill Clark, Miami has more talent than does UAB. It will be a close game between both teams before D’Eriq King orchestrates two late fourth-quarter drivers to lift the Hurricanes to a comfortable Week 1 victory at home. Hurricanes, 35-17.
Game 2: at Louisville Cardinals (Sept. 19)
Miami will be feeling confident about itself heading into their first road game of the season. In a clash of second-year head coaches, it will come down to who puts together a better game plan and who executes it better. The Hurricanes will overlook Scott Satterfield’s Louisville Cardinals early in their road game for some reason, and it will end up costing them. Cardinals, 31-23.
Game 3: vs. Florida State Seminoles (Sept. 26)
With a tough road loss fresh on their minds, the Hurricanes will come out angry and ready to put a whopping on Mike Norvell’s Florida State Seminoles. What Miami will find out quickly is the ‘Noles will be a well-coached team as well. Miami has more on-field talent and will prevail, but this one will be closer than anyone with Miami ties will be comfortable with. Hurricanes, 34-30.
Game 4: at Clemson Tigers (Oct. 10)
Even with a bye week to get ready for their toughest game of the season, Miami’s first game in October will be a rude awakening. It will serve as an ever-present reminder that Clemson dominates the ACC for a reason and it is not yet the Hurricanes’ day in the sun. King will try to do too much and a pair of turnovers will turn this one into a laugher. Tigers, 41-24.
Game 5: vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (Oct. 17)
With a pair of losses already before Halloween, Miami will need to essentially win out to have any shot at getting to the ACC Championship game or even think about reaching the College Football Playoff. They will get right at home vs. Pat Narduzzi’s Pittsburgh Panthers, but the previous week’s loss to Clemson will still linger in the back of Miami fans’ minds. Hurricanes, 28-24.
Game 6: vs. Virginia Cavaliers (Oct. 24)
Feeling confident once again after a narrow victory over Pittsburgh, the Hurricanes will continue to build on something good when they take on the visiting Virginia Cavaliers. While the Hoos won the ACC Coastal a season ago, Bronco Mendenhall’s team lost a lot of talent from last year. Despite being well-coached, Miami will have more good players than Virginia this year. Hurricanes, 33-17.
Game 7: at North Carolina State Wolfpack (Nov. 6)
This could be one of those games where the ‘Canes show us what they are truly capable of. It might be a reflection of what could happen in 2021 should King decide he wants another season in Coral Gables. North Carolina State could be in for a rough year in Raleigh. Dropping this one in a laugher at home could have Dave Doeren on the hot set. Hurricanes, 40-21.
Game 8: at Virginia Tech Hokies (Nov. 14)
Let’s be real. This feels like another scheduled loss for the ‘Canes. Miami will do a good job this year at home, but when the team has to face a top-25 opponent on the road, they don’t have what it takes to get it done. The Virginia Tech Hokies were going to contend with the Hurricanes anyway in the ACC Coastal, and they will prevail at home over Miami. Hokies, 33-30.
Game 9: vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Nov. 21)
There is nothing quite like a get-right game after a tough loss than getting the lowly Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket at home in late November. Eventually, Geoff Collins will get it right down on The Flats, but he needs at least another recruiting class or so to overcome the antiquated inadequacies from running a triple-option offense under Paul Johnson. Hurricanes, 38-14.
Game 10: at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (No. 28)
This will be one of the best games of the Hurricanes’ season. Even though the Wake Forest Demon Deacons will be home dogs, Dave Clawson will largely outcoach Diaz. Needing a big play or two from his star quarterback, King will rise to the occasion and have his best game of the season, amassing over 500 combined yards through the air and on the ground. Hurricanes, 38-31.
Game 11: vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (Dec. 5)
In their regular-season finale, Miami has a shot to keep the North Carolina Tar Heels from getting to the ACC Championship game. It’ll be a marquee game with the billing of King vs. Sam Howell and Diaz vs. Mack Brown. Howell will outplay King, but a special teams gaffe will be enough for the ‘Canes to win an unbelievable one and spoil North Carolina’s season. Hurricanes, 28-27.
Miami Hurricanes’ 2020 record prediction: 8-3 (7-3)
Looking at their record of 8-3 overall and 7-3 in ACC play, Miami football fans will have mixed feelings about this season. It’s certainly a better mark than it was a season ago at 6-7 (4-4), but those three losses will continue to frustrate the fanbase throughout the offseason. You can live with the Clemson defeat, but Louisville was shocking and the Virginia Tech one will hurt.
Miami fans will wonder if King wants to play again in his super-duper senior season. Though they can’t really blame Quincy Roche for going pro, King won’t be a first-round pick after his good, but not a great senior season. There’s a chance Miami will want to run it back, but there may be a few players who will be ready to go pro off this year’s team that won’t return to Coral Gables in 2021.