This is the first of a series where I will be exploring future non-conference opponents that I would like to see Miami face down the road. This list is based on the likelihood of actually happening, the prestige of the opponent, and the potential benefits (i.e., recruiting exposure) that could come from it. I’m not including Florida and Notre Dame on this list because A) Miami already is set to face them in the coming years, and B) they are major rivals and I would OBVIOUSLY be in favor of facing either of them routinely.
#10: Michigan Wolverines
Overview: It’s been a minute or two since the Canes and Wolverines have faced off on a football field. These two storied programs have only met twice in their histories. The schools bookended Jimmy Johnson’s tenure in Miami with matchups in 1984 and 1988. Since their last matchup, Miami went on to win three more national championships, with Michigan claiming a share of the 1997 title.
This would be a potential matchup of two programs that have fallen on hard times for much of this century. Michigan has hit the 11-win mark twice since their 1997 title. Their best year was 2011 season, when they won the Sugar Bowl over Virginia Tech in Brady Hoke’s first year. Since then, they’ve reached 10 wins three times under Jim Harbaugh, but have never reached the high expectations that came with Harbaugh’s arrival.
All-time record: Tied at 1.
Last matchup: #1 Miami won 31-30 on September 17, 1988 in Ann Arbor. In case some of you would like to revisit a classic with the sweet tones of one Keith Jackson calling the action, you can enjoy that here:
A star was born that day, as kicker Carlos Huerta converted an improbable onside kick with under 3 minutes to play and booted the game winning points to help Miami, who trailed 30-14, stun the #15 Wolverines 31-30 in one of Miami’s more underrated comeback wins in the history of its program. Steve Walsh brought the Miami offense to life in the final 5+ minutes of the game, scoring 17 points in that span.
Potential for recruiting: moderate. Miami doesn’t often pull many players from Michigan, but the matchup itself would garner a national television audience and plenty of revisiting Miami’s brash historical brand vs. that of Michigan. Exposure ain’t a bad thing, and this matchup would draw plenty of eyeballs due to its novelty.
Likelihood of happening: low. For whatever reason, these schools just haven’t gotten together, and Michigan doesn’t have an opening until 2026 (while Miami only has one before then, in 2022). Miami has Notre Dame in 2028 and 2031-2034. They also have South Carolina in 2026-2027. It doesn’t seem likely Miami would work in a higher-end power five non-conference opponent in that stretch. It seems recently like Blake James hasn’t been willing to sign more than one non-conference opponent a year (with some exceptions, like 2021 and Florida/Notre Dame in 2024-2025). Both teams’ opportunities lie in 2029-2030, with neither team having a non-conference opponent confirmed yet.