Even though we don’t definitively know that we’re going to have a 2020 season due to the pandemic, that hasn’t stopped a number of pundits from trying to give a far too early projection for how they believe the season could go.
At least a couple of writers believe that a 2020 season would go much more favorably for Miami than the 2019 car-over-the-proverbial-cliff did.
Per College Football News and Brad Crawford of 247 Sports, Miami is slotted in the Orange Bowl in their projections. Crawford has Miami facing off against Penn State and CFN has Miami vs. Boise State.
Personally, I’d be thrilled with a trip to the Orange Bowl, which for me is the mark of a successful 2020 season. If you could give me that, I’d slap the table and say, done, I’ll take it. Yes, I recently wrote an article on nine wins as the floor of an acceptable season, but I honestly think nine wins and the Orange Bowl go almost hand in hand, unless UNC or Virginia Tech rises up and goes 10-2 or better in 2020, which is possible but I find unlikely. I think it making the Orange Bowl would be a step towards major progress after ending a losing season in a shutout loss to a team from Ruston, Louisiana. Playing a team like Penn State would draw a lot more eyeballs to the TV screen, given the Nittany Lions’ denial of Miami’s second championship in the 1987 Orange Bowl and the general historical interest in both teams. I would think that’s as close to a dream matchup that the Orange Bowl could get on paper, and given there might not be fans in the stands this season, the prospect of selling tickets might give way to what team is most interesting to viewers. And where Virginia snuck into the CFP rankings only at the very end of last season, that ability to choose among unranked ACC teams could become relevant again if there’s another dog-eat-dog season in 2020.
And the Orange Bowl is Miami’s game, literally and figuratively. It was the University of Miami championship invitational for the better part of a decade, not to mention all of the other championships decided there. Honestly, if Miami isn’t going to play in the college football playoff, I’d rather play in the Orange Bowl than any other major bowl else because that game means so much to the school, and the school means so much to the area.
I also wanted to pen this article to address the confusion among fans of all schools as to the criteria for the Orange Bowl selection. Many folks towards the end of the 2019 season bantered back and forth about whether Notre Dame could take the ACC’s slot if it was ranked higher than the second-ranked ACC team. It cannot. The ACC’s Orange Bowl slot is guaranteed. As Crawford noted, Notre Dame only qualfies for Orange Bowl selection if it does not make the playoff and is ranked higher than the highest available Big 10 or SEC school. So, basically, if Notre Dame finishes 5 or 6 in the final CFP poll, it could qualify for the Orange Bowl and face the second-highest ranked ACC team.
So whether or not Miami finishes ahead of UNC, Virginia Tech, Virginia, or other would-be challengers for the second-best ranking in the BCS behind Clemson is all that matters. Who gets there and how they do it is another story altogether, as we all know that the coastal chaos from 2019 is an almost annual occurrence in some form or fashion. Coastaling is the new Clemsoning.
Hopefully, when the dust settles, Miami ends up with an extra de facto home game, or better. Go Canes.