The Miami Hurricanes are sitting at 10-0 and 11th in the S&P+ on Thanksgiving week, supposed rivalry week (but really- Pitt?!), and are two wins from staking their claim at the ACC title. December 2nd will be Miami’s first ACC Championship Game since joining the conference in 2004. Before taking on the S&P+’s 9th ranked Clemson Tigers, Miami first has to beat the Pitt Panthers who sit at 84th in Bill C’s rankings.
The 2002 Buckeyes were coming off a 7-5 season and were ranked 13th in the pre-season polls. The Miami Hurricanes entered 2017 coming off a 9-4 season and a pre-season 15 ranking. OSU’s quarterback was Craig Krenzel entering his first season as a starter as a junior. Krenzel played a game similar to Malik Rosier in that he took care of the football and could pick up first downs with his legs when needed.
The Buckeyes 2002 schedule featured four ranked opponents on their way to the playing the top rated Miami Hurricanes in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. The ‘Canes will have played four ranked opponents (counting Clemson and their playoff opponent) before making it to the College Football Playoff national championship game in ‘17. Both squads had 9-win expectations and would need a hype machine to get them going.
The Buckeyes hype machine was led by freshman running back Maurice Clarett. But Clarett wasn’t the only star on the Buckeyes. Travis Homer’s running style and rise to stardom is quite similar to Clarett who wasn’t supposed to be the starter at OSU in 2002. The defense was loaded with NFL talent like Will Smith, Bobby Carpenter, Mike Doss, AJ Hawk, and two-way star Chris Gamble much like Miami’s 2017 squad that’s led by their defense that gets pressure on the quarterback and creates turnovers. The Buckeyes offense had other star players too like Gamble, Michael Jenkins, Nick Mangold and Santonio Holmes.
Miami’s 2017 hype machine is on the Turnover Chain and led by defense and timely offensive scoring. The Buckeyes had seven close wins before their showdown with top ranked Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. The ‘Canes have had five close wins and a close two and a half quarters against the Cavaliers. Another similarity would be the up-and-coming defensive coordinator that makes the whole thing go.
The Buckeyes defensive coordinator, and future Michigan State Spartans head coach, was Mark Dantonio. Dantonio’s defense held opponents to under 9 points per game. Mark Richt’s defensive coordinator is our beloved Manny Diaz. Manny and Mark didn’t have head coach experience heading into their big season as they moved on to be the head man of their own program. Dantonio moved on to Cincinnati before MSU. Manny Diaz might be able to pick up a position like UCF if Scott Frost leaves before landing a major job at a power 5 school.
As you look at the talent comparisons and number of NFL players on both rosters, the coaching staffs, and the results you’re seeing some similarities. If Miami can beat Clemson and their first round playoff opponent (Oklahoma?) it will be a showdown of the expected champion and constant power of the Alabama Crimson Tide against a young, up and coming program on the rise in the Miami Hurricanes.
Enjoy your comparison and your turkey. Be thankful Miami is even in the title hunt at 10-0. Enjoy Miami’s defense making plays and the Turnover Chain. Hopefully Miami can steal a title from the Tide and complete my comparison.