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Where Do the ‘Canes Go From Here?

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Shortly after a close road win against Virginia Tech, Miami’s season came to a standstill.

Manny Diaz: Hurricanes ‘learning how to win in different ways,’ even as poll voters think less of them Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

On November 16th, it was announced that Miami would reschedule its remaining 3 games due to rising COVID cases within the program. The news surfaced just 2 days after Miami faced Virginia Tech, a game in which Miami missed 13 players.

It has been a whirlwind season for the Hurricanes, they started red hot, blowing out rival Florida State by a score of 52-10, but were embarrassed in Death Valley by Clemson. Since then, the ‘Canes have built a 4-game winning streak, breaking their bye week curse under head coach Manny Diaz against NC State, and barely sneaking by an upset-minded Virginia Tech team in Blacksburg.

While Miami won’t take the playing field for the next 2 weeks, fans will be watching the games of fellow ACC teams intently. Despite their loss to Clemson, Miami could land itself in the conference championship if the Tigers drop another game. Clemson’s next 3 are at Florida State, home against Pitt, and at Virginia Tech for the regular-season finale. Ultimately, it doesn’t seem that Clemson will lose to any of those teams, but there’s always a slim chance of an upset.

The Hurricanes could move to second in the conference while watching from home, practically controlling their own destiny to the ACC Championship Game.

With that said, Miami’s road to the conference championship won’t be a given, even if Clemson loses another matchup. Wake Forest has had a mediocre season thus far, but won’t be a pushover. As we know, Miami gets every team’s best effort, and can’t afford to come out flat or unmotivated—especially on the road. Additionally, the ‘Canes face the high-powered offense of North Carolina the week after, a team that can score 50 points on any given night.

If Miami wins their next 2 games, it turns their matchup against Georgia Tech into a wildcard game of sorts. The contest will only be played if it doesn’t have ramifications for the ACC Championship Game, as it’s scheduled to take place on the same day. Given Miami’s loss to Clemson, the only way it’d be insignificant is if Clemson drops 2 more games, or Miami if loses to Wake Forest or North Carolina, essentially eliminating either team from top-2 contention.

While much of this scenario seems unlikely, 2020 has been nothing but unpredictable. Do we know exactly what will happen? Absolutely not. Regardless, here’s wishing all players affected by COVID good health and a speedy recovery. Hopefully, Miami is able to return to the field without further issues and add to their 4-game winning streak.