The Miami Hurricanes’ 2020 schedule was announced on Wednesday. Quickly, analysts and fans began offering their win and loss projections and highlighting key matchups for the year. If you’re like me, you immediately circled November 7 on your calendar. Now that the dust has settled on the hype surrounding the schedule release, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of this year’s lineup of games.
- Miami begins the season with three home games. In week one the Canes take on the Temple Owls, in week two they battle the Wagner Seahawks, and in week three the UAB Blazers come to town. The Hurricane’s first three opponents were a combined 18-21 (0.462), including Temple’s and UAB’s bowl losses. Wagner’s 2019 record was an abysmal 1-11. With the addition of Rhett Lashlee, D’Eriq King, Quincy Roche, and many others, the Hurricanes will need time to iron out the wrinkles that scheme and personnel upheaval can create. Having winnable games at the beginning of the season can only help build confidence, chemistry, and positive traction. When we play stronger teams later in the year, the groundwork we lay against these three teams will pay dividends.
- The bye week is evenly fixed in the season. Its placement is an advantage simply because it’s not too early. Early byes are useless and are never rewarding once the injuries begin pile up later in the season. Last year the Canes had a week off after the Florida Gators and Central Michigan Chippewas games. After the Central Michigan game, we played nine consecutive games without a break. The injuries mounted and the team looked lethargic. We’ll need all the help we can get for the second half of our schedule, a break a the midpoint is truly appreciated.
- The schedule is not overwhelmingly hard. Our 2020 opponents went 79-76 (0.510), including bowl games, in 2019. There are some real challenges in 2020. however, we will not be opening the year against the Alabama Crimson Tide like 2021.
- In 2019, the Canes were asked to play two consecutive away games at three spots in the season. We opened against Florida and after a week off, we played at the North Carolina Tar Heels. In week 7, Miami played at the Pittsburgh Panthers and in the following week, we traveled to Tallahassee to take on the Florida State Seminoles. The last two games of the season were in Marlins Park to battle the FlU Panthers and at the Duke Blue Devils. The team was 2-4 in that stretch. In 2020, this away back-to-back only happens once when the Canes line up against the Virginia Tech Hokies and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
- The Hurricanes do not play a team off of a bye week this season. The Canes also finish the season at home. This is a huge bonus if by some miracle we make it to the ACC Championship game on Dec. 5.In 2017 the Hurricanes played at Pitt and then played in the ACC title game against the Clemson Tigers the following week. We all remember that score.
- The three-game stretch before the bye will be Miami’s first test. The Michigan State Spartans (7-6), Pittsburgh Panthers (8-5), and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-5) were all bowl teams last season). They went a combined 23-16 (0.590), including bowl games, in 2019. In addition to the level of opponent ramping up with these three matchups, the Canes play Wake Forest away and on a short week.
- Virginia Tech plays Pitt on November 6th. The following week they play Miami on November 14. The Panthers get an extra day to prep. This disadvantage is very minute. It’s also the only scheduling perk any team receives against us.
- The six games after the bye are against ACC teams, 5 of which are Coastal Division opponents. On the whole, the last eight games of the season are against ACC teams. This is not extremely out of the ordinary. However, the money portion of our schedule will be crucial. The chemistry and continuity building we hope to cultivate early in the season will be put to the test. This stretch includes taking on the ACC Coastal Champion Virginia Cavaliers and a Sam Howell led UNC team.
- Miami finishes the season against Duke. I expect the Canes to be better than the Blue Devils this season. However, we believed that to be the case during the last two seasons. We currently hold a two-game losing streak against them.