For the last few weeks, all of the news organizations have been obsessed with Thursday October 17th. The date has been discussed and analyzed ad nauseam on CNN, FOXNEWS, MSNBC, and CNBC. The moment we have been waiting for is finally here. The 10th ranked Hurricanes will take the field against North Carolina in a nationally televised showcase game. Thanks to "extraordinary measures" taken by Coach Al Golden, the Canes are 5-0 and the favorites in the ACC Coastal Division. This Miami team has no "ceiling" and will demonstrate their "continuing resolution" to achieve every goal. Mark D’Onofrio’s defense will "shutdown" the Tar Heels. Dealing with expectations can be tricky for a young team, but veteran stars Stephen Morris and Denzel Perryman will show leadership. I’ve been saying it all season: This Year Will Be Different. While enjoying the bye week, Miami witnessed several examples of how hard it is to continue success in college football. Stanford’s loss at Utah will be a teaching moment for Coach Golden. Expect his team to be ready.
During the planning stages of our trip, we discovered that Clemson’s Memorial Stadium was actually located in Pickens County, South Carolina. The omen gave me confidence, especially after Rutgers earned me a solid weeknight victory on Thursday. I correctly picked BC to keep things close, but went 5-5 overall on the day. Johnny Manziel is still the most exciting player in college football, but his turnovers prevented a larger margin of victory. The highlight of my 6-5 week was LSU’s impressive defensive performance against the Gators, which moved my record on Golden Picks to 6-1 on the season. The ACC continues to be my best conference and I expect the Canes to continue that momentum at UNC. I am excited to welcome back an annual tradition in college football - Tuesday night games. Bobby Petrino and Western Kentucky will play well under the lights on ESPN2.
MIAMI -8 at North Carolina 7:30pm – THURSDAY – ESPN
I love this quote from the ESPN.com preview for the game. "At the end of the season we'll count them up and see where we're at," Al Golden said. "We're 0-0 going into this game. All that matters right now is going to Chapel Hill, being a mature team, having poise, playing with poise, communicating, executing. The rest of it doesn't really matter." NFL scouts will likely be in attendance to watch Stephen Morris and UNC QB Bryn Renner. Morris has recovered from an ankle injury and will continue to find Hurns, Coley, and Dorsett downfield. UNC's defense was shredded by East Carolina QB Shane Carden and won't match up well with Miami's speed on the perimeter. Renner returns from an ankle injury after missing a start, but he'll face a resurgent Canes defense that has 18 sacks on the season. UNC really misses the explosiveness of current Bengals RB Gio Bernard. The Tar Heels have struggled to run the ball all year. Miami gets a break that talented UNC TE/LB Jack Tabb is suspended for the first half of the game. The Canes will have a lead by the time he can contribute. RB Duke Johnson will have a big game and reintroduce himself to a national ESPN audience. UNC will be ready to play, but this Miami team is simply better on both sides of the ball. I'm fully aware of the dangers of playing on the road on Thursday night. Miami will deal with the pressure and continue to win. Full Speed Ahead.
Lessons from a Trip to Clemson
1. Winning in college football is never easy. Clemson fans are very nervous when things don't go well, given past disappointments. Boston College stunned the Tigers in the first half, as even the fans were caught looking ahead to Florida State. The game was perfectly scripted for our trip because we got to see a competitive contest throughout. In the end, Boyd made plays when it mattered most and DE Vic Beasley is emerging as the best defensive player in South Carolina. (Because he actually plays hard and suits up)
2. Never play bumper cars with an 18-wheeler. Our 40foot RV was a serious machine, but South Carolina roads could use more lighting at night. Unfortunately this lesson cost us our right side mirror. The right lane was our friend for the remainder of the trip. Air-conditioning issues forced me to drive the RV shirtless on the way home, which made me feel like a true Southerner.
3. Clemson fans are the nicest people ever. Neighboring tailgaters happily let us use their grill and watch their flat-screens. Fans in the stands talked to me about Miami football and wished me good luck this season. At TD's after the game, I agonized over Brady Hoke's terrible coaching and the chokes by Michigan K Brendan Gibbons. Enough Clemson fans watched my reactions and heard my shouts of anger that I was consoled by numerous groups of people when Penn State finally won.
4. Towns like Clemson make college football the best sport in America. The culture and family atmosphere at Memorial Stadium is so different than attending a game at Sun Life Stadium. During a big game at Clemson, fans aren't bombarded with endless advertisements. They aren't greeted by police officers at every corner. Our group brought a football in the stadium without difficulty and waited patiently for the game to end. We followed hundreds of people onto the field and threw fade routes to each other in the end zone where Sammy Watkins had scored just hours earlier. Seeing fathers throwing passes to their sons and taking family pictures on the 50-yard line is what makes Clemson special. I love going to Miami games at home, but I strongly encourage every fan to attend more road games and experience college football in the South.
Spend Your Tuesdays With the Sun Belt
LA-Lafayette at WESTERN KENTUCKY -4.5 8pm - TUESDAY - ESPN2
That collective groan you hear is from wives and girlfriends across the country. Tuesday night College Football is BACK. Bobby Petrino has an opportunity to audition for bigger jobs and the WKU fans are planning a Black Out to match the team's new uniforms. WKU's offense is starting to click, led by stud RB Antonio Andrews. QB Brandon Doughty is gaining confidence under Petrino and threw for 370 yards last week against UL-Monroe. ULL QB Terrance Broadway has experience and dual-threat ability, but I've seen him struggle under pressure in the past. Petrino will benefit from the few extra days of preparation and the Hilltoppers win by 7 or more tonight.