Miami is 4-0 and ranked 11th. Miami just beat Florida State in Tallahassee. What a time to be alive.
When you watch a thrilling win, you always remember where you were and who you were with for decades to come. I was in Massachusetts to attend my friend's wedding on Sunday. I was spending the fourth quarter of Miami-FSU nervously pacing around an outdoor bar while everyone else I knew was chatting and catching up with each other. It was time to focus and let the emotional rollercoaster begin.
I was confident all week, but after FSU took the lead 13-10, a little doubt started to creep in. Was Malik Rosier capable of leading a touchdown drive to win the game? Mark Walton could barely move and FSU had all the momentum.
The Canes immediately answered with a 6-play 75-yard march to take the lead 17-13. Chris Herndon, Rosier, and Braxton Berrios all stepped up. I started to think about where this drive would live in Canes history if Miami could hold on. Some friends started to congratulate me, but I knew better than to get too excited. I silently fist pumped, but didn't overreact.
FSU's next touchdown drive was demoralizing. After FSU QB James Blackman struggled for three quarters, Miami somehow let him go 5-5 passing in a 9-play drive. There were missed assignments, blown coverages, and confusion in Miami's secondary. Florida State was up 20-17 with 1:24 remaining. My head was spinning. Again? This is going to happen again? I thought of the agonizing article I would be writing in a few days about how even though Miami lost to FSU yet again, the Coastal was still a nice goal for this season. I would need to channel Butch Jones and his "Champions of Life." I thought about copying and pasting last year's version and seeing if fans would even notice.
After two quick incompletions, Miami's prospects looked bleak. Thankfully Miami's new star slot receiver saved the day once again. Berrios made a huge third down catch and got past the yellow line, even though it appeared diagonal on the screen and terrified me for a moment. After two incredible run calls that resulted in consecutive first downs for Travis Homer, the Canes were in business. After two frustrating throws deep to Lawrence Cager fell incomplete, Berrios caught another pass for a first down with 11 seconds remaining. Things were moving so fast that I didn't even realize Darrell Langham was in the game on that play as a decoy.
Malik Rosier's throw and Darrell Langham's catch will forever be one of the great plays in this historic rivalry. Miami-Florida State games have been decided by field goals on the final play, but this was a touchdown with six seconds left. Langham was only on the field for two plays and became a hero. After keeping my composure all drive, I couldn't contain myself as the ref signaled touchdown, letting out a WOOOOOOOO that would've made Ric Flair proud.
My phone was going insane. The texts were pouring in.
Go Canes, that was amazing.
But wait....why is this play under review? Without the ability to hear the broadcast at the bar, I instantly started to fear the worst. My joy lasted less than 30 seconds.
Dude this is really close.
Ugh, I think he's short.
O wow, with the celebration penalty too this is brutal.
Miami has NO CHANCE of getting the benefit of the doubt.
If they don't count this, the NCAA is rigged.
They can't change this call. No way. It has to stand.
Even though I knew the play should stand, my lack of faith in referees and review officials was controlling my thoughts. Would Michael Badgley be ready to tie this game with a field goal? Would Miami be able to win in overtime? After briefly celebrating a win, it is very difficult to bounce back emotionally once it's taken away. The 2003 Fiesta Bowl........
"After Review, the Play Stands. Touchdown." The best six words of the 2017 season. An enormous weight was immediately lifted. At the rehearsal dinner that night, the food tasted better. The speeches were shorter and funnier. The drinks were perfect. A permanent smile was tattooed on my face. I know so many Miami fans felt the same way. This was our night and after years of agony, we deserved it. In the last 10 months, the bowl losing streak ended and the FSU reign of dominance is history. It's still early in the process, but the optimism and excitement is here to stay.
Mark Right said it best in an interview this week:
"Is Miami back? We're not back. But we're moving in the right direction."
MIAMI -5.5 vs Georgia Tech - 330pm
Dealing with success isn’t easy, but there are reasons to be confident about Saturday’s game. Mark Richt is 14-2 against Georgia Tech in his career as a head coach. Miami hasn’t lost at home to the Yellow Jackets since 2007. The weakest unit on Miami’s defense is the secondary, especially if Sheldrick Redwine can’t play on Saturday. Fortunately for the Canes, Georgia Tech has only attempted 33 passes in four games. The trip to Miami will be the first time Tech has left the Atlanta area this season. The Canes forced three turnovers and scored twice on defense in 2016 in a 35-21 win in the 2016 matchup. In 2017, Miami’s defense is 4th in the nation in TFL per game, a huge factor in stopping the triple-option. Expect to see the turnover chain featured on numerous occasions on Saturday.
GT QB TaQuon Marshall has been impressive this season in an overtime loss to Tennessee and two blowout wins over Pitt and UNC. His offense leads the nation in time of possession at more than 36 minutes per game. Miami’s depth on defense will be tested - fortunately the Canes have talented backups across the front 7.
Tennessee managed to score 28 points in regulation against Georgia Tech. The Vols only have 33 points combined in their next three games against FBS teams. Georgia Tech doesn’t have a formidable pass rush and Miami’s offensive line will be able to give Malik Rosier more time than he had in Tallahassee. Travis Homer will be making his debut as the starting RB. It is impossible to replace Mark Walton, but Homer has been a pleasant surprise so far this season.
The game might be close early, but Miami is a second-half-team under Mark Richt. The Canes pull away in the fourth quarter and move to 5-0.
“It Ain’t Easy Being This Good.” - White Men Can’t Jump
I’ve had four consecutive winning weeks. The bandwagon has left the station. I’ve attained Lonzo Ball Summer League status. My best results have come from picking teams on the road, teams that are favored, and teams in the ACC. No wonder Miami was able to beat Florida State last weekend. I expect to receive full credit for helping to end the streak. I know the millennial attention span means I’ve used up my word count already in this article, so we’ll just go with picks only this week. If you are curious about any particular game, hit me up in the comments section.
SYRACUSE +22.5 vs Clemson - 7pm - Friday
COLORADO -10.5 at Oregon State - 4pm
STANFORD -10.5 vs Oregon - 11pm
CALIFORNIA +14 vs Washington State - 1030pm - Friday
ILLINOIS -2.5 vs Rutgers - 12pm
FLORIDA STATE -7 at Duke - 12pm
MICHIGAN -7 at Indiana - 12pm
TENNESSEE -3 vs South Carolina - 12pm
KANSAS +22 at Iowa State - 12pm
WEST VIRGINIA -3.5 vs Texas Tech - 12pm
OKLAHOMA -8 vs Texas - 330pm
PURDUE +17 at Wisconsin - 330pm
LSU +7 vs Auburn - 330pm
NORTHWESTERN -3 at Maryland - 330pm
HOUSTON -13.5 at Tulsa - 330pm
TEXAS A&M +3 at Florida - 7pm
MINNESOTA +4 vs Michigan State - 8pm
UTAH +13 at Usc - 8pm
ARIZONA +1 vs Ucla - 9pm
SAN DIEGO STATE -7 vs Boise State - 1030pm