The 2nd quarter of Miami's season concluded with an epic victory over in-state rival, Florida State University, to cap off a 3-0 period. While the Canes were taking care of business, the performances of their remaining opponents have helped shape the layout of the ACC Coastal Division with Georgia Tech and University of Virginia being unblemished in league play. Here is a quick look at how the teams remaining on the Canes’ schedule fared during the second quarter of action and who the Canes biggest threats are going forward.
Overall: The Canes’ remaining opponents put up a combined record of 11-8 in weeks 4 through 6. Taking a closer look at the overall record, they went a combined 5-1 against non-conference opponents and played no FCS teams. Of the 7 remaining teams, three (UNC, Pittsburgh and Syracuse) had 7 of the 8 losses. Against top 25 teams, they went 0-2. Based on the three or less game sample size, I've broken the remaining opponents into the following categories: Top Tier, Middle of Pack and Bottom of the Barrel as the Hurricanes move into the second half of the season.
1. Georgia Tech University (2-0): During my 1st quarter review, GT was in the middle of the pack, but after taking down two Coastal Division foes they have worked their way to the top of the list. Despite not being ranked, I have them as the Hurricanes top opponent for a few reasons. First, they are the next game following the Canes emotional win over FSU. If there was ever a trap game, this is it! Next, the winner of this game will be the front-runner for winning the Coastal. Lastly, their run first triple option attack is always a challenge. The Canes have been susceptible to giving up big runs in their two ACC games which can be dangerous against the #8 rushing team in the NCAA.
CMR: Calls GT "A huge challenge for us." Says Paul Johnson's offense is one of the most difficult to prep for and slow down.— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) October 10, 2017
2. # 15 Virginia Tech University (2-1): Va Tech remains one of the Canes top opponents following their second quarter of action. I moved them down one spot to #2 based on their loss albeit to #2 Clemson. In addition, their freshman QB Josh Jackson has struggled mightily in his second set of games as teams have had more film to study on him. In his first three games, he bolstered an 8/0 TD to INT ratio, but in the following three games he has a 5/4 TD to INT ratio. If the Canes’ can make Va Tech one dimensional, they should be able to force some game changing errors.
Middle of the Pack:
3. #16 Notre Dame (3-0): At the end of the 1st quarter of the season, there was turmoil in South Bend, and Head Coach Brian Kelly appeared to be on the “Hot Seat” following a media blow up after their 1 point loss to UGA. The 2nd quarter was going to be very telling of what team Miami would face in mid-November. During this period, we learned that ND is here to compete. Their biggest question mark is the health of starting QB Brandon Wimbush who suffered a foot injury during their game against Miami, Ohio. While back-up QB Ian Brook was able to lead his team to a road victory at UNC, his stat line, 54% completion percentage and 2 INTs, was not impressive against the 1-5 Tar Heels.
4. University of Virginia (2-0): The surprise of the conference has to be the Cavaliers and the job Bronco Mendenhall has done so far. Last quarter, I mentioned “don't expect too many ‘W’s’ in the win column” as the culture slowly changes. I was completely off on that comment and it started with UVA’s huge road win against Boise State on the blue grass. In addition, they are 1 of 3 teams in the division without a conference loss. Biggest take away, they are not the pushovers they once were.
5. Syracuse University (1-2): Quarterback Eric Dungey has been the main contributor in the second quarter for the Orangemen. He has account for 85% of their total offense and 8 TDs. Unfortunately for the Cuse, he is not getting much help which has led to an overall 3-3 record and only 1 win against a Power 5 team.
6. University of Pittsburgh (1-2): My initial thoughts were that Pitts struggles were a result of their difficult schedule at the start of the season, but their next 3 games hasn’t been much better at 1-2. Pitt is struggling to find an identity as they try to find stability at the QB position. A week after QB transfer Max Browne won back the starting QB position and lit up Rice University for 4 TDs, he injured his throwing arm. The injury appears to be significant as Ben DiNucci will take back the starting position and freshman Kenny Pickett has been named the backup moving forward.
7. University of North Carolina (0-3): During UNC’s 1st quarter games, my primary take away was their inability to close out games in the 4th quarter. In the second period, the wheels have completely fallen off as they went 0-3. UNC’s issues will be hard to fix giving it is not just one side of the ball. Defensively they are still trying to find their way following the departure of Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik to spend more time with his family. During this three game span they have given up over 440 yards a game, and teams are covering 40% of the time on 3rd down and a staggering 87% on 4th down. Offensively, they aren’t protecting the ball and are averaging 2 turnovers a game.
The 3rd quarter of the season will be a pivotal one for the Miami Hurricanes as they try to take a strong hold on the ACC Coastal Division.
Opponent 2nd Quarter Record:
GT 2-0: University of Pittsburgh, University of North Carolina and BYE
Cuse 1-2: LSU (L), NC State University (L) and University of Pittsburgh
UNC 0-3: Duke University (L) Georgia Tech (L) and #21 Notre Dame (L)
VT 2-1: Old Dominion, #2 Clemson University (L) and Boston College
ND 3-0: Michigan State University, Miami Ohio and University of North Carolina
UVA 2-0: Boise State, BYE and Duke University
Pitt 1-2: Georgia Tech (L), Rice University and Syracuse (L)
*Rank reflects time of game.