The 2017 season has been anything but normal for the Miami Hurricanes. From having to evacuate campus due to Hurricane Irma, canceled and rescheduled games, injuries to star players, and multiple games that have come down to the last drive and final seconds. Although they have overcome all of these hurdles, the main story line heading into the final month of the college football regular season is ‘who are the undefeated, 7-0 (5-0) Canes? This question is baffling fans and college football experts alike.
One proponent suggests the Canes are gritty, full of fight and just finds ways to win every week. In games that are determined by 8 points or less, the Canes are currently 4-0. During the 2016 season, the Canes went 0-3 in such games. Every challenge the Canes have faced, in the words of Coach Mark Richt “[the Canes have] done enough to be in this moment”. Using this philosophy, the Amway Coaches’ poll moved the Canes up two spots to #6.
The other side of the argument suggests the Canes are just squeaking by bad teams and haven’t played any real competition. They have no ‘convincing’ wins and they have miserably failed the “eye test”. This can be seen in the Associated Press poll that dropped the Canes to #9 from #8 and the recently released College Football Playoff poll has the Canes at #10. The Canes are currently the lowest ranked undefeated Power-5 team. The other three undefeated teams (Georgia Bulldogs, Alabama Crimson Tide and Wisconsin Badgers) are ranked one, two and nine respectively.
My personal opinion is, “a Win is a Win”, and to quote the 2x Super Bowl Coach Bill Parcells “you are what your record says you are”. And, for right now, that’s undefeated and holders of the longest win streak in FBS football. Usually this time of year (past 14 years), I am calculating which ACC teams need to lose in order for the tiebreaker scenario to play out for the Canes to win their first ever Coastal Division title. Two years ago we were coming off the worst loss in school history, 58-0, and last year we were on a 4-game losing streak. So, for me to start dissecting any win is nonsense. But don’t get me wrong, it is frustrating to only win the last two games by a combined 11 points when you had a total of 12 turnovers (1 fumble recovery, 1 blocked punt, 3 turnover on downs and 7 interceptions) and needing “minor miracles” in the final seconds to win the two games before that. But, the point remains, we have no blemishes on our record, something 124 other teams cannot say.
No matter what side of the argument you are on, one fact remains, it is November and Canes football matters and I’m enjoying it! To quote CMR “does it matter how we got here? We got here!” and “[the Canes] got a shot at playing a game that’s the most meaningful game this deep into the season in a long, long time. We need to seize the moment.” This month will define the Canes 2017 season and should be a month to remember as the Canes have the opportunity to accomplish all of their preseason goals or as I like to call it the “The Hurricane Standard Checklists”. In the next two weeks, the Canes have the opportunity to check off a couple of items from this checklist as they host top teams in #13 Virginia Tech Hokies and #8 (#5) Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
“The Hurricane Standard Checklist”
✓ Beat Florida State Seminoles: If Miami had a 1 win season, it better be this game
◻ Beat Other Rivals: 2017 include Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Virginia Tech Hokies
◻ Win 10+: Double digit wins start the conversation of a "good year" for most teams
◻ Win Division: ACC Coastal includes Duke, UNC, VT, GT, Pitt and UVA
◻ Win ACC Conference Championship: vs winner of ACC Atlantic Division
◻ Win Bowl Game - Hopefully CFP Playoff semifinals or New Year’s Six Bowl
◻ Win National Championship
◻ Undefeated Season
Where do you stand on this argument? Oh yea, as you can see, being ranked in the middle of the season is not on this checklist.