The first quarter of Miami's 2017 football season has come and gone and as we enter into week four, the biggest challenge the Canes have faced has been Mother Nature. While Miami has been dealing with life and the before, during and aftermath of Hurricane Irma with the rest of the state of Florida, football was being played by the majority of their opponents. Here is a quick look at how the teams remaining on the Canes’ schedule fared during the first quarter of action.
The Canes’ remaining opponents put up a combined record of 18-9 through week three. Note, three games were postponed/cancelled due to Hurricane Irma; Florida State University (2) and Georgia Tech (1). Taking a closer look at the overall record, ~40% of their wins (7) came against Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) competition. Remove those wins and they bolstered a slightly above average 11-9 record. At the other end of the competitive spectrum, when facing Top 25 teams, they went a combined 1-6. If this trend holds, this could bode well for the Hurricanes who entered week four ranked #14 by the Associated Press.
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.
1. Virginia Tech (3-0): They entered the season with a huge question mark at quarterback, but turning the offense over to Freshman QB Josh Jackson has proved to be the right move out the gate. He lead his team to victory over then #22 West Virginia for the lone Top 25 win on the opening week finale. Through three games he has thrown for 829 YDS, 8 TDs and 0 INTs. This offensive explosion paired with a typical Bud Foster, Defensive Coordinator, lead defense and it's obvious why Va. Tech will be a tough out for the Canes.
2. Florida State University (0-1): They have had a similar fate as Miami dealing with Irma and not seeing much on field action. Despite only having a 0-1 record, and a new freshman QB after Deondre Francois was hurt late in game 1, they are here because of their proven track record. With Head Coach Jimbo Fisher calling plays, he will maximize QB play and a stout defense which was proven in their loss against #1 ranked Alabama makes FSU dangerous. At this time, the primary question mark is Special Teams play.
3. Notre Dame (2-1): Through week 3, ND has faced the most consistent competition against three power 5 teams with a 1 point loss to currently ranked #11 UGA. With Head Coach Brian Kelly's status in South Bend being highly volatile, ND could easily slip from top tier to bottom of the bucket by the time they face Miami in November.
Middle of the Pack:
4. Georgia Tech (1-1): Like Miami, they will finish the year with only 11 regular season games with the cancellation of their match up vs UCF. Their lone win came against an FCS team and their loss against then #25 Tennessee (currently not ranked) in double OT. New QB Taquon Marshall has looked dynamic in Paul Johnson's Triple Option offense with 506 Total YDS (274 rushing) and 6 TDs, but he has been prone to put the ball on the ground with 4 fumbles.
5. Duke University (3-0): While Duke does not have the athletics that Miami has, Head Coach David Cutcliffe always has a well-coached and prepared team when they take the field. Duke currently sits undefeated after handily taking care of their FCS opponent and an in shambles Baylor club.
6. University of Toledo (3-0): Simply put, they are putting up yards and points. They come into week 4 against the Canes averaging 553 YDS and 46 points a game. This is against 2 non-Power 5 teams and their FCS match up. More on Toledo will be posted throughout the week on State of The U.
7. University of North Carolina (1-2): Closing out games in the fourth quarter has been the Achilles heel of this team. In their two losses, they were leading going into the 4th, but have been outscored a combined 34-13 to finish the last stanza.
8. University of Pittsburgh (1-2): After knocking off an FCS team, Pitt has had one of the toughest two game stretches in college football facing currently ranked #4 Penn State and #6 Oklahoma State. In these 2 games Pitt was outscored a combined 92-35, 35-0 in the first quarter. Turnovers and Pass defense has plagued them against these highly ranked teams.
9. University of Virginia (2-1): In Bronco Mendenhall’s second year, it appears the Cavaliers are still trying to learn how to win. After last season’s 2-10 record, UVa has had five consecutive losing seasons. As the culture changing process occurs, don't expect too many “W”s in the win column.
10. Syracuse University (2-1): Averaging 2.3 turnovers a game is not what Head Coach Dino Babers expected when he brought in his high powered offensive scheme a year ago. But, this is the type of numbers his offense is currently putting up which will not win you a lot of ball games despite their current winning record. If their carelessness continues as the competition increases, I wouldn't bet on them moving out of the bottom barrel.
Opponent First Quarter Record:
Toledo 3-0: *Elon, Nevada and Tulsa
Duke 3-0: *North Carolina Central, Northwestern and Baylor
FSU 0-1: #1 Alabama (L)
GT 1-1: #25 University of Tennessee (L) and *Jacksonville State University
Syracuse 2-1: *Central Connecticut State, Middle Tennessee (L), Central Michigan
UNC 1-2: California (L), #17 Louisville (L) and Old Dominion
VT 3-0: #22 West Virginia, *Delaware and East Carolina
ND 2-1: Temple, #15 University of Georgia (L) and Boston College
UVA 2-1: *William & Mary, Indiana (L), University of Connecticut
Pitt 1-2: *Youngstown State, #4 Penn State (L) and #9 Oklahoma State (L)
* Denotes FCS team
Rank is based on week of play