Miami (Almost) Every Week - The 2013 Pickens College Football Tour

Peter Casey-US PRESSWIRE

You can't visit 40 college football stadiums by sitting on the couch every Saturday. Watching Miami play almost every week is driving my full slate of games this fall. I am previewing Miami’s season and describing why I’m excited about each game on my schedule. The Pickens College Football Tour is almost here.

The season is less than three weeks away. In case you were in a coma the last few months, I’ll update you on everything you missed. Kate had a baby, Arod did PED’s, Anthony Weiner has a large cell phone bill, Aaron Hernandez writes letters in his free time, and the NCAA is still a debacle. Finally all of that nonsense doesn’t matter anymore because actual football games that count will soon be here. Here is the much-anticipated release of my game attending schedule for 2013. Expect photos and analysis from each game I attend, plus some stories that only happen in and around college football stadiums. Even though my picks are more well thought out than a BYU uniform decision, follow me @JPickens15 so you can yell at me when my picks go 4-10 on opening weekend.

Highlights of My Schedule

- Just like a college football player, I have 12 games on my schedule. Hopefully I will stay healthy throughout the season and avoid concussions or a lower-extremity injury

- I will see six teams from the state of Florida. My apologies to USF for making them feel left out

- I will see nine ACC teams play live this fall. This is the year that the conference steps up and wins a few big games against the SEC.

- I will attend all seven Canes home games. I still get goose bumps when I hear the voice of Phil Collins on the loudspeakers.

August 30th - Florida Atlantic at Miami

Friday Night Lights. Fire up the BBQ grills, put the UM flags on your car, and throw on your Duke Johnson jersey. The opening weekend of college football will have finally arrived. Everyone enters the season undefeated and fans always have sky-high expectations. Miami has been treated well by the preseason prognosticators and magazines, with a very talented and veteran offense returning. In my opinion, the FAU game is all about the Canes defense. We know that Morris, Duke, Dorsett and company will put up points in bunches this season. The unknown in Coral Gables is just how improved this year’s defense will be. This is an opportunity for Miami’s defense to dominate FAU and gain confidence heading into UF week.

September 2nd - Florida State at Pittsburgh

Monday Night Football – ACC style. For one Monday during the season, the focus is solely on college football. Several questions come to mind when thinking about this game. How will FSU’s freshman QB Jameis Winston play in his first game, with a national audience anticipating his debut? Does Pitt have the talent to compete in the ACC? How does Pitt’s starting QB Tom Savage still have eligibility? The Noles are currently 10.5 point favorites on the road. FSU fans hope that they will finally be able to talk about Winston’s success on the football field, instead of endlessly telling everyone about how great he is because he threw a ball over a frat house or threw a runner out at the plate.

September 6th - Central Florida at Florida International

The absence of a Conference USA stadium on my list of college football conquests has forced me to attend this game. UCF is a talented team that has the opportunity to challenge Louisville for the AAC title. The Orlando Sentinel recently named UCF’s Blake Bortles as the top QB in the state. While I find this slightly absurd given the talent of Stephen Morris, I am excited to watch Bortles in person. Former Cane RB Storm Johnson is poised for a big season for UCF. I’ll be in full Canes gear mentally preparing myself for the showdown with the Gators the following afternoon.

September 7th - Florida at Miami

Should the Canes play well and win, we might look back on this game years later as the official launching point for Al Golden’s successful career at Miami. This matchup is a huge opportunity for Miami to reassert their national presence. ESPN will hype this game as much as possible as kickoff approaches. While I wanted this to be a night game, I’ve heard enough complaining about the noon kickoff by now. All of the great Miami wins over Florida State were played in sweltering heat at the Orange Bowl. I’m willing to sweat for a program changing victory.

September 21st - Savannah State at Miami

Miami fans constantly ask about incoming freshmen and want to know when they can see them on the field. Regardless of the outcome of Miami’s game against the Gators, come out and support the Canes against Savannah State. This is your chance to watch future stars like Stacy Coley and Alquadin Muhammad show what they can do. If some of the 2013 freshman class is going to contribute on the field this season, strong performances in a blowout like this will make a case for increased playing time.

October 5th - Georgia Tech at Miami

While many analysts have pointed to Georgia Tech as a potential sleeper in the Coastal, I am very confident about this matchup. Miami has handled the option in recent years and will be ready. Miami will be playing their first ACC game of the season, while Georgia Tech will have already played Duke, UNC, and Virginia Tech. If the Yellow Jackets head to Miami with two conference losses, expect their confidence to be shaken. Miami torched GT for 609 total yards last season and this year’s offense will be much better. Duke and Morris should have monster games.

October 12th - Boston College at Clemson

If you haven’t been to a college football bachelor party, quickly add it to your bucket list. I was hoping to attend a marquee SEC game, but most of the guys on the guest list don’t make $7500 per autograph signing. A trip to Clemson is a good compromise. Renting RV’s and driving through South Carolina to attend a college football game is as American as it gets. With Miami having a bye week, I can put all my energy into scouting Clemson for a potential matchup with the Canes in the ACC Championship game.

October 26th - Wake Forest at Miami

Why should Canes fans care about Wake Forest? As Admiral Ackbar famously said, "It’s a trap!" While I have complete confidence in Al Golden’s ability to motivate and focus his players on the task at hand, I’m slightly worried about the potential for a trap game. Wake Forest is sandwiched between two road games against UNC and FSU. Hopefully Miami’s veterans will send a message to the rest of the roster that the Demon Deacons are not to be overlooked. Talent will eventually win out and Miami will pull away in the second half.

November 2nd - Miami at Florida State

As a fan, there is no better feeling than watching your team win on the road against a rival. One win can make up for all of the disappointments of the past. FSU will be a serious test for Miami’s defense, which will hopefully be significantly improved from a year ago. This is by far Florida State’s biggest home game of the year so I expect the crowd to be ready. I hope this matchup regains the allure it had during the 90’s and early 2000’s. Miami fans want revenge on the state capital for blocking a plan to provide shade to Sun Life Stadium, especially since former FSU QB Drew Weatherford’s brother was the driving force behind the bill’s defeat. Bring on the cursing and the drink throwing – Tallahassee here I come.

November 9th - Virginia Tech at Miami

Which Logan Thomas will we see this season? The Canes are fortunate to be hosting Virginia Tech in back-to-back seasons and must take advantage. This game will be crucial in deciding the race for the Coastal. If Miami enters this game ranked in the top 15-20, I am confident in this being a night game. While LSU at Alabama will be the marquee matchup nationally, fans that like watching offense will flip over to watch the Canes. If Miami is able to win in Tallahassee the week before, tickets in Sun Life Stadium will be hard to come by.

November 23rd - Virginia at Miami

Mike London can’t spell "formally" on scholarship offers to recruits, but he has been able to beat Miami in three straight seasons. That streak ends this fall and London could find himself on the hot-seat when this game arrives. I’m still seeking revenge from the final game played in the Orange Bowl. Anything less than a blowout and I will be disappointed.

November 29th - Washington State at Washington

Thanksgiving is all about enjoying time spent with family. When I can combine that with seeing my first Apple Cup, it makes the trip even better. I’ve always heard great things about the noise level in Seattle and I’m excited to see the new and improved Husky Stadium. Mike Leach always provides some intrigue, and I’ve long supported him in the clash with the intolerable Craig James. QB Keith Price and UW could be one of the surprise teams this season. I’ll leave the game in time to watch the Canes beat Pitt to clinch a berth in the ACC Championship game.

December 7th – ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, NC

Save the date Canes fans. All the reports from Miami’s camp have been positive and this team is ready to make a run.

This season will be different. Full Speed Ahead.

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