The ACC has finally released the 2012 football schedules, and there are plenty of things to see. Once again, Miami faces a tough opening slate, playing 4 of the first 6 games on the road. The middle of the schedule is tough, and the finale is a bit softer. Hit the jump to see the full list and my reaction.
Here's the full schedule with home games in bold:
Sept. 1: at BC
Sept. 8: at Kansas State
Sept. 15: BETHUNE-COOKMAN
Sept. 22: at Georgia Tech
Sept. 29: NC STATE
Oct. 6: vs. Notre Dame in Chicago, Ill.
Oct. 13: NORTH CAROLINA
Oct. 20: FLORIDA STATE
Nov. 1: VIRGINIA TECH
Nov. 10: at Virginia
Nov. 17: USF
Nov. 24: at Duke
Sept. 1: at BC
My initial reaction to this schedule is something along the lines of "gulp". We are fielding a talented, but largely unknown team this coming season, and this schedule does not play nice. Couple that with home games always being a toss up because of the lack of, well, any crowd, and this thing gets harder and harder to read. I hope the buzz created by Golden's job on the recruiting trail will have fans coming to the stadium in droves. Let's take a look at this thing game by game to get a better feeling, or at least the best feeling, that we can for how this season will end up.
BOSTON COLLEGE AWAY - This is a conference game, on the road, to open the season. This means that this team of very young kids will be playing a real game together for the first time, and a loss would mean an early setback in the conference race. The pressure on this game, even though it's against what should be a middle of the road opponent, is huge. This game could go either way very easily, but in the end I tend to lean more towards our level of talent figuring things out and getting the win.
RESULT: W (1-0) - (1-0)
KANSAS STATE AWAY- This Wildcats team returns much of the same team that beat Miami in a close game last year, or at least returns the guys who seemed to fuel that team in Arthur Brown (yes, THAT Arthur Brown) and Collin Klein. While the final score last year was close, the game itself was not. KState poses a very tough game, and this time it's at their house. Unfortunately I don't see this game going the way of the good guys.
RESULT: L (1-1) - (1-0)
BETHUNE-COOKMAN HOME - While this game last year was fairly tough to start, the Canes eventually ran away with it easily. This year should be no different, although the early stumble may take a bit longer to fix than it did last year, what with the team's youth and all. This should be an entertaining win, because we can be sure to get Cookman's best.
RESULT: W (2-1) - (1-0)
GEORGIA TECH AWAY -For the second conference game of the year, the Canes will travel to Atlanta to play the Bees. While Tech has put up very impressive numbers the last few seasons with their wacky Paul Johnson triple option tomfoolery, it never seems to perform well against Miami. The last three years, Miami has stymied the weird attack, and has come out victorious. While the defense is a bit different, and young at a few of the positions, a lot of the older guys are in positions that are prime for stopping the option, and they are experienced enough to help the younger guys figure it out. I see this one going the way of the Canes.
RESULT: W (3-1) - (2-0)
NC STATE HOME - NC State has not been an overwhelming success within the ACC the last few years, although they definitely have shown some promise in their overall games. They tend to play teams tough, and the last time the Wolfpack and Canes faced off (the '08-'09 season), The Pack stormed back after being down at the half to beat the Canes in Raleigh. Well, now it's Miami's turn. The team should be coming together well 5 games in, and should have started to find a flow. The conference home opener should provide enough juice for the team to get a win here. The only shadow that looms over this game? The potential for a trap game seeing as the next game is going to be tough.
RESULT: W (4-1) - (3-0)
NOTRE DAME AWAY - This game revives the old "Catholics Vs. Convicts" rivalry, and should be accompanied by plenty of sound bites and video clips from the games of the 80's. This by no means will be a game that will compare to those however. The game will be played at Soldier Field, home to the Chicago Bears. While technically a neutral site game, the fact that the NCAA considers Soldier Field to be neutral when ND and Miami square off is laughable. I have the Canes coming in on a bit of a hot streak, and the Irish will be looking to fix a lot of turnover issues from last year. This game is hard to call, but ND fields a more experienced team, especially on the defensive side, and I have to give the edge to them.
RESULT: L (4-2) - (3-0)
NORTH CAROLINA HOME - UNC is always, ALWAYS a tough game for the Canes. That being said, Butch Davis is gone, replaced by Larry Fedora, who will be a great coach for them. Whether or not he will make a huge impact in his first year remains to be seen, and this game is played at Miami. While this game is always tough, I have a hard time thinking that the Canes wont be able to pull out a victory here.
RESULT: W (5-2) - (4-0)
FLORIDA STATE HOME - Ah, this game. This fickle, heartburn inducing, hell of a game. While it certainly has not gone the Cane's way as of late, it is still one of the more compelling games of each and every season. This year, unfortunately, will be no different than the last few. Even though it is at home, Jimbo has had the Noles on a tear on the recruiting trail. While their recruiting and pre-season hype generally fails to hold up through the season, this is one game. It's a game where both teams get hyped up to play, and the talent level rises to the occasion. Due to this fact, as hard as it is to say, the Noles have more talent, and should come away with a win here.
RESULT: L (5-3) - (4-1)
VIRGINIA TECH HOME - Last year's game against the Hokies was thrilling as all get out, even though the Canes came up just a bit short thanks to a defensive breakdown in containing Logan Thomas. Thomas returns this year, and should still pose the matchup threat he did last year. This game should be a good one, but in the end its hard to bet against the offensive experience of the Hokies matching up against the young secondary of the Canes. I think we drop this one at home in a closer game than most expect.
RESULT: L (5-4) - (4-2)
VIRGINIA AWAY - At this point we are into the back end of the schedule, and this is by far the toughest of the remaining 3 games. Virginia pulled out more than a few impressive wins last year, including FSU and Miami. They also had some head scratchers, including a one point victory over Idaho and a loss to Southern Miss. They played fairly well in all of their games, and are on the upswing. It is because of this, and the fact that it is at their house, that I see this game as the one weird upset on the schedule.
RESULT: L (5-5) - (4-3)
SOUTH FLORIDA HOME - South Florida has fielded a pretty tough team the last few years. The school itself is in a bit of turmoil due to funding, and that should play at least some part in the upcoming season if it is not resolved before everything gets started. This game is in Miami, which should provide the edge the team needs to pull out a win, aided by the anger of dropping a game against Virginia.
RESULT: W (6-5) - (4-3)
DUKE AWAY - There isn't much to be said here. Duke usually gets some pretty good recruits, but they generally do not field a very tough team. The same goes for this year. They have landed some really good players on the offensive side of the ball, but overall this should be around the same old Duke team we are used to seeing. Even though this game is in Durham, and it's the last game of the season, I see the Canes getting a win here.
RESULT: W (7-5) - (5-3)
As you can see, I see the Canes improving by one game over last years squad. While not a huge improvement record wise, I expect that the play on the field will show just how much effect another year under the same coaching staff will have. We are putting out a team that will feature quite a few young guys alongside guys that are more experienced, but have not seen a lot of playing time. There will be a few early stumbles, more than a few kinks to work out, and it is entirely possible that the 7-5 result is a bit over-zealous. I could easily see the Canes finishing up 6-6, but the feeling around the program and the willingness of the kids to buy in to Golden's system has me feeling a LOT better about late game situations and overall conditioning. These kids WANT to win for their coach, their school, and their fans, instead of trying to go out and compile a highlight reel for the NFL scouts. With the impending NCAA sanctions which will most likely include at least one more bowl ban, this season will basically be a learning one for the new kids, and a chance for Golden & Co. to show the recruits of 2013 that they mean business. Let's hope that I am wrong about a few things on this breakdown, and that 7-5 mark proves to be a bit low.