Another brutal October has turned hopes of sugarplums and ACC Championship game tickets dancing in our heads into another lost season in Coral Gables. While even the most ardent of Cane supporters would never admit privately that a College Football Playoff was on their minds, making a legit run at the Coastal division was a very reasonable – and potentially reachable – goal.
Instead, injuries, a turnstile offensive line, a lack of depth (particularly on the defensive side of the ball), a botched extra point, a missed video replay call, untimely poor play from the QB position, and a RB corps that has failed to showcase a playmaker are among the throngs of reasons Cane fans are looking at recruiting boards (and of course checking out our fabulous recruiting coverage) and thinking about next year. All before Halloween and other scary movie re-runs have finished airing on SyFy and AMC.
Getting off the schneid last week against a pretty good Pittsburgh team halted the bleeding, and gave some promise to what could (and hopefully will be) a solid month of November and strong finish to the season for Miami.
(Oh, and the Canes finally won in their snazzy new uniforms. Those things are damned, damned good looking duds, aren’t they? Never change those, UM. Ever.)
And, while a November winning streak and possible mid-tier bowl is not enough to move the needle beyond “meh” for most folks, it would require the Canes to conquer a demon that has plagued them for the better part of a decade: winning at Scott Field.
Last win there? A 24-17 overtime victory on November 1, 2008.
For those that might not remember, then-starting quarterback Jacory Harris led the Canes down the field and hit LaRon Byrd for a 26-yard touchdown at the end of regulation. Aldarius Johnson – perhaps one of the most highly touted/biggest flops in recent Cane memory – caught the go-ahead score in OT and the defense stopped RB Cedric Peerman and the Hoos offense to preserve the win.
Since then, the Canes have dropped their last 3 trips to Charlottesville. UVa prevailed 24-19 on October 30, 2010. Then, in perhaps the most memorable of Al Golden collapses, the Canes dropped a 41-40 heartbreaker on November 10, 2012, in which Miami led by 5 late, but couldn’t convert a short third down to put the game away. Most recently, the Canes sleepwalked to a 30-13 loss on November 22, 2014 in the middle of a four-game losing streak to end the season.
Look, Scott Field is a nice stadium, but it’s nowhere near a Lane Stadium, Doak Campbell, Papa Johns Stadium or any other intimidating conference venue.
And these Wahoos are ripe for the picking.
While the Hoos managed to take Lamar Jackson and Louisville to the final seconds before bowing out last week, this is a 2-7 football team we’re talking about here. Aside from a 13-10 loss to UConn and a 34-20 win at Duke, the Virginia defense has allowed 27 points or more in every game this season. Yo.
Brad Kaaya and the Miami offense stepped up big last week in pulling away from Pittsburgh. And there’s little doubt the Canes have the talent edge when comparing Jimmies to Joes between the Cane offense and Cavalier defense.
This is a game that Miami must win. And they should win it by more than a late touchdown pass to escape by the skin of their teeth. This needs to be a game where Kaaya and Ahmmon Richards continue their promising work together. We need to see a healthy rushing attack, punctuated late by the Gus Bus again.
A win would make Miami bowl eligible, which in and of itself is hardly irrelevant. Because, speaking of futility, Miami hasn’t won a bowl game since they carried Larry freaking Coker off the field in his final game as a Hurricane in a 21-20 win over Nevada in the MPC Computers Bowl on December 31, 2006. That, my friends, is an ugly streak that should serve as plenty of motivation for this team to finally break.
But first, they need to exorcise the demon of Charlottesville.