As one NCAA season officially ends, the next begins. Albeit, there is never truly an ending/beginning to the NCAA slate due to the staggered bowl season, rolling draft declarations, the fluid recruiting cycle, and a slew of transfer portal decisions. While there is still a lot of time to go until Miami takes on the Crimson Tide in Atlanta, the Canes and Manny Diaz are building the program’s culture back up, especially as a lot of draft eligible players #runitback.
The status of QB, D’Eriq King, will likely be unknown until late summer, so that could easily dictate the expectations. However, besides some weak spots at LB and CB, the Canes’ roster seems pretty well-rounded and continues to pick up transfers along their offseason campaign. They most recently procured Oklahoma WR, Charleston Rambo, and are a lead candidate for Georgia CB, Tyrique Stevenson.
So, now that we’ve established that Miami is headed in the right direction, here’s my way-too-early predictions for next season’s schedule. After their 22nd rank in the final AP Top 25 poll, I anticipate the Canes to open the season in the 15-20 range. Keep in mind, the order of the schedule has not been established yet besides the first four out-of-conference games in September:
Sept. 4 vs. Alabama— Projected result: L
Welp, if you Wanna Be the Best, You Gotta
Beat Play The Best
Talk about getting thrown into the fire as Miami faces the defending NCAA Champion in Atlanta. Sure, Bama is likely to lose Mac Jones, Najee Harris, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Alex Leatherwood, Landon Dickerson, Deonte Brown, Dylan Moses, Patrick Surtain II, Miller Forristall, Christian Barmore, and Josh Jobe. However, they return, and welcome, an uber talented group. Namely, Jones will pass the QB torch to Freshman, Bryce Young, who was nationally ranked the No. 1 dual threat QB recruit in 2019. The high-powered offense also returns solid weapons in WRs John Metchie III, Slade Bolden, and RB Brian Robinson Jr., as well as a starting freshman DB, Malachi Moore. They also possibly welcome the greatest recruiting class ever.
While the sentiment of “We Want Bama” is great and it is as big of a challenge that you can ask for Week One, I don’t think this one is happening, BUT... Canes 2001 > Crimson Tide 2020
2020 Alabama would beat 2001 Miami, but only because most of those Canes are in their 40s now.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) January 12, 2021
Otherwise ... pic.twitter.com/BW7f94WTf3
Sept. 11 vs. Appalachian State — Projected result: W
Former FCS Sweetheart Battles the Power Five Big Boys
Appalachian State is no stranger to strong power 5 and ranked opponents after bursting on the scene with the greatest upset in college football history when they beat Michigan in 2007. That game was proof an FCS team can beat a strong FBS opponent and the Mountaineers’ program has only improved from there. They have since lined up games against Costal Carolina, UNC, South Carolina, Penn State, Georgia, Wake Forest, Tennessee, Clemson, Michigan, and Miami, in 2016, where they lost 45-10. The Mountaineers finished the season with the most votes outside of the AP Top 25 and have finished 6-0 in bowl games since they moved to the FBS.
In the Myrtle Beach Bowl against North Texas a few weeks ago, RB, Camerun Peoples, broke the FBS Bowl rushing record with 317 yards in their 56-28 win, as he also tacked on five rushing TDs - an insane stat line of 22 rushes, averaging 14.4 yards per carry. After Miami’s struggles in rush defense against UNC, the Canes need to figure out a way to keep Peoples in check.
App State earned its sixth consecutive bowl victory with help from Camerun Peoples— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 21, 2020
Peoples' five TDs ties the Mountaineers' single-game record for rush TDs. pic.twitter.com/DgAXPQ2LXe
Sept. 18 vs. Michigan State— Projected result: W
Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV) Reunion
Michigan State has left a lot to be desired over the past couple seasons as they transition without HC Mark Dantonio. Miami was supposed to travel to East Lansing last year for their out-of-conference away game before the schedule alterations. Michigan State has been loading up via the NCAA Transfer Portal as they have already added a QB (Anthony Russo), RBs (Harold Joiner and Kenneth Walker), and DL (Drew Jordan - who will be a nice complement to their star DE Jacub Panasiuk), and could potentially be in competition with the U for at least one more addition, discussed below.
While both teams try to get back on the national stage, an interesting secondary storyline for this matchup is the potential Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas, NV) reunion. Bishop Gorman alum, Brevin Jordan, has declared for the draft and Tate Martell is likely out the door in Miami.
However, Miami Safety, Bubba Bolden is #runningitback, and will face off against Michigan State four-star 2020 recruit LB, Ma’a Gaoteote, as well as Redshirt Sophomore WR, Jalen Nailor. Of note, Gaoteote recently de-committed from USC. Coincidence or not, his brother and former five-star recruit/USC LB, Palaie, entered the Portal around the same time. Thus, there may be a nexus for Palaie to convert from a Trojan to a Spartan. On the flip side, Palaie has been linked to the Hurricanes, but scholarship spots are running low.
Sept. 25 vs. Central Connecticut State— Projected result: W
Can’t Sell the FCS Opponents’ Short
As mentioned above with regards to Appalachian State, FCS opponents do pull off the occasional upset. Let’s hope this will be a pleasant finale to the out-of-conference foes.
@ Duke — Projected result: W
Last Game Was Bad For Duke... This Shouldn’t Be Much Better
The Duke game this past season was one of the highlights for Miami. The lowlights for the Blue Devils should continue into 2021 as they likely lose key departures to the draft in top tier EDGE defenders, Chris Rumph and Victor Dimukeje. Also, their QB, Chase Brice, transfers to Appalachian State, and DL, Drew Jordan, transfers to MSU, the U’s week two and three opponents, respectively.
@ Florida State — Projected result: W
Can’t Sell the FCS Opponents’ Short
Admittedly, FSU has been making some waves in the Transfer Portal. While his productivity is still to be determined as he comes off a significant injury, the Noles lured in QB, McKenzie Milton, from UCF, which should be a significant upgrade from James Blackman. They also gained RB, D.J. Williams,LB, Jermaine Johnson., and DB, Jammie Robinson, the latter of which most recently played for Travaris Robinson’s Gamecocks. Still, their 2021 recruiting class left a lot to be desired and Miami should keep the streak alive in Tallahassee.
vs. Georgia Tech — Projected result: W
Revenge For 2019 Loss
This past year’s game was re-scheduled and then cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Miami should take care of business this time around to avenge 2019’s 28-21 loss.
vs. NC State— Projected result: W
An Easy Win Would Be Nice
This season’s game was uncomfortably close as Miami skated by 44-41 after a Mike Harley game-winning TD catch and run. NC State returns their star WR, Emeka Emezie, but has a slew of projected transfers, including QB Bailey Hockman. That should, hopefully, make this game slightly less stressful.
vs. Virginia — Projected result: W
An Easy Win Would Be Nice (Part 2)
In the 2020 game, Miami could not muster up anything on offense aside from Harley’s breakout 10-catch, 170-yard performance. They barely edged out a 19-14 win over the then 1-4 Virginia Cavaliers.
vs. Virginia Tech — Projected result: W
An Easy Win Would Be Nice (Part 3)
This was another 2020 matchup in that string of games that was too close for comfort as Miami won 25-24. Virginia Tech QB, Hendon Hooker, has transferred to Tennessee so that makes this game slightly more comforting. However, as far as ACC opponents go, the Hokies are decent and can not be taken lightly.
at North Carolina — Projected result: W
Miami Players Need Not Forget: 778 Yards. 62-26.
Circle it, highlight it, write it in your goal’s journal. THIS is the game Miami needs to win. Even though UNC loses RBs, Javonte Williams and Michael Carter, and WRs, Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome, they have already garnered another productive RB, Ty Chandler, via the Transfer Portal. Another year of growth for Sam Howell does not make things any more reassuring. Also despite losing LB, Chazz Surratt, they have a young defense led by CB, Tony Grimes, who played his freshman season at UNC in 2020 in a season where Grimes was technically supposed to be a high school senior. Regardless, while Miami looks to #runitback in most aspects, they need to come out ready to play and leave the sloppy play from 2020 in the past.
at Pittsburgh — Projected result: L
An Experienced And Skilled Offense
Pittsburgh has appeared to have the tools on paper to get it done, but have not been able to execute in game play. Pitt returns talented QB, Kenny Pickett, and Freshman slot WR, Jordan Addison, appears to just be scratching the surface as he burst onto the scene in 2020 working under OC Mark Whipple’s offense. This should be a nice barometer for the state of Miami’s secondary, which will now be operated by Travaris Robinson. While the Panthers’ offense appears ready for a high-powered attack on paper, the defense lost a number of stars. Head Coach, Pat Narduzzi, has not been able to get the Panthers to click yet and this could be his last chance.
Way-too-Early Projected Record: 10-2
Factoring in the default loss to Bama, anything between 11-1 and 9-3 seems fair. But, as mentioned, still a lot of time to go and a lot that can happen between now and September 4th. What do you think?
What is your way-too-early 2021 Miami Record Prediction?
This poll is closed
12-0 (Miracles Happen!)
10-2 (Losses to Bama and UNC)
10-2 (Losses to Bama and non-UNC Opponent)