Miami played better than any of us dreamed was possible the past two weeks. Can the Canes keep playing at that level? Will Saturday’s game against Virginia be a classic college football letdown performance? Miami’s coaches had the players ready for Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, but that wasn’t difficult. Massive national hype, electric crowds, and the motivation of being underestimated fueled the Canes. This week Miami is nearly a 3-touchdown favorite against a decent Virginia team. I’m excited that the crowd Saturday will be near capacity according to UM, but the noon start time ensures the atmosphere won’t be quite the same. Miami is ranked 3rd, being talked about as a playoff contender, and has already clinched the Coastal. This week is where Richt and his staff will earn their money.
Entering the 2017 season, I was focused on one goal - WINNING THE COASTAL. Beating FSU was nice and sure I wanted to beat Notre Dame, but the agony of never playing in an ACC Championship game was getting to be too much to handle year after year. The support for the Canes this season has been phenomenal and the game against Clemson is already sold out. The goalposts have moved for this season after the last two dominating wins. Regardless of the nonsense we heard this week from Kirby Hocutt, if Miami wins the next three weeks I’ll be passing out roses to everyone in Charlotte. If I have to start my 2018 in New Orleans, that’s fine too.
Saturday is Senior Day for the Canes and I’m very proud of this group. These guys heard boos far too often in their first two years at Miami and dealt with the firing of the coaches that recruited them. Many of them could’ve transferred elsewhere (some of their teammates did), giving up on their dream to restore glory to the Miami program. Seeing Miami’s seniors having the best season of their careers in 2017 has made this season special. I apologize if I miss any, but get to your seats early to help give these players the sendoff they deserve.
MIAMI -19 vs Virginia - 12pm
Virginia will be a popular pick this week. It’s so easy to write about how Miami could sleepwalk early, keep Virginia in the game, and win a close game in the fourth quarter. I’ll be taking the other side of that. Miami being ranked 3rd in the College Football Playoff rankings is absurd, but it’s great for motivational purposes. Miami actually has a better resume than Alabama and Clemson and the players know it. We’ve heard it from players all week - no one believes Miami can keep winning.
Virginia is 6-4 and a bowl appearance is a nice achievement for Bronco Mendenhall. The Cavs won soundly at Boise State in September, but lost by large margins to Pitt, Louisville, and Boston College in three of the last four games. UVA QB Kurt Benkert is an NFL prospect who impressed scouts early in the season. In his first six games, UVA was 5-1 and Benkert threw for 15 TD vs just 3 INT, averaging 280 yards passing per game. The past four weeks, UVA went 1-3 and Benkert threw 6 TD vs 4 INT, averaging just 203 yards passing per game. The Cavs don’t have a strong running game and have failed to reach 100 yards rushing in five of their 10 games.
One thing is clear - Miami’s defense is significantly better than any Virginia has faced so far this season. The magic of the turnover chain has been getting a lot of attention, but it’s Miami’s ability to dominate the line of scrimmage that is creating so many turnovers. I expect the Canes to make Virginia one-dimensional and Benkert will throw a few interceptions, helping Miami add to the lead in the second half. In its four losses this season, Virginia hasn’t topped 21 points. Miami wins 41-17.
My record on the season is basically 135-0. That's right, I have a ton of good wins. Where did my losses go, you ask? Well after watching the College Football Playoff Committee I've decided to adopt their model for dealing with losses. In each instance where I technically picked the wrong team, at least one player on my team was injured, thereby nullifying my loss. Clemson's AD (who like Jeff Sessions is completely recused) loves my new system.
TULSA +22.5 at South Florida - 730pm - Thursday
WESTERN KENTUCKY +3 vs Middle Tennessee State - 8pm - Friday
Western Kentucky has lost three straight and needs a win to qualify for a bowl and stop the bleeding. The Hilltoppers will bounce back at home.
MICHIGAN +7.5 at Wisconsin - 12pm
It’s time Wisconsin faced an actual opponent with a legitimate defense and talented playmakers on both sides of the ball. The Badgers might win, but this game will be close throughout.
RUTGERS +10.5 at Indiana - 12pm
NORTHWESTERN -7 vs Minnesota - 12pm
SMU +12.5 at Memphis - 12pm
TEXAS TECH +7 vs Tcu - 12pm
WEST VIRGINIA -3 vs Texas - 12pm
WYOMING +2.5 vs Fresno State - 2pm
I expect Josh Allen to play. Even with him nursing an injury, the Cowboys will win to go 7-1 in their last 8 games.
ARIZONA STATE -7 vs Oregon State - 3pm
ILLINOIS +41 at Ohio State - 330pm
This line is hilarious - I'll gladly dare the Buckeyes to beat me by six touchdowns....
KENTUCKY +21.5 at Georgia - 330pm
Kentucky is 7-3 and has the talent to keep this game competitive. I'm curious how long the blowout loss at Auburn will linger over Georgia.
NAVY +18 at Notre Dame - 330pm
Navy will shorten the game, control the clock, and Notre Dame will struggle with motivation after the emotional loss to Miami.
GEORGIA TECH -7 at Duke - 330pm
UAB +10.5 at Florida - 4pm
A chance to root against the 3-6 Gators AND Randy Shannon is the head coach? This is too good to pass up.
NEBRASKA +26.5 at Penn State - 4pm
ARIZONA +2 at Oregon - 7pm
UCONN +21.5 vs Boston College - 7pm
VANDERBILT +8.5 vs Missouri - 730pm
USC -16 vs Ucla - 8pm
I'd take Darnold over Rosen anytime anywhere. UCLA has the worst run defense in the nation.