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Ranking Miami’s 2022 opponents

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 20 Virginia Tech at Miami Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re roughly 3 months away from the start of the 2022 college football season. With the transfer portal having mostly settled itself out, teams are beginning to take form as far as finalized rosters for the upcoming year.

So, now seemed as good a time as any to take a look at Miami’s 2022 slate and rank the opponents. The rankings are in reverse order from the perceived easiest game down to the most difficult.

So let’s get started...

12) vs. Bethune-Cookman; 9/3/22

This is a no-brainer. It’s the opener, so it’ll take a few minutes to get the kinks out, but Miami will get rolling over a BCC team that has never come closer than 28 points vs. UM in its history.

11) vs. Southern Miss; 9/10/22

The Golden Eagles are starting their first season in the Sun Belt this fall, and it could be a tricky one for them. USM went 3-9 (2-6 C-USA) last season and still appears to be a team in the middle of a major rebuild, so UM should roll for a second straight week.

10) Duke; 10/22/22

After a sleepy start, Miami steamrolled the Blue Devils for the second straight year. The program had really started to sag under since-retired David Cutcliffe, and it will take some time for Mike Elko to get the Blue Devils in the vicinity of sniffing a bowl game. Duke is years away from competing with the middle of the ACC again.

9) Middle Tennessee State: 9/24/22

I might not be giving the Blue Raiders enough credit here, as they did finish with a winning record and Bahamas Bowl champs last fall. But they lost to anyone with a pulse, and are generally inferior talent-wise to the remainder of teams on the Canes’ schedule, so I’ll put them here. That said, Miami would be wise not to overlook them the week after the Canes’ huge tilt at Texas A&M.

8) at Georgia Tech; 11/12/22

The Jackets gave Miami more of a fit than most would’ve expected last year, with the Canes escaping 33-30 at home. It was one of many bumps in the road for Tech, who finished 3-9 for the season. But I don’t need to go into much detail for their 2022 outlook, because our friends over at From The Rumble Seat already did recently. They call for Tech to be looking for its 22nd head coach sometime in 2022. Ouch.

7) Florida State; 11/5/22

The Noles did Miami the biggest of favors in beating the Canes last fall, which served as the final nail in the coffins of Blake James and Manny Diaz. Had that loss not happened, Miami wins its last 6 games, and we could be looking at more of the same stagnant situation right now instead of a completely overhauled and improved program we’re blessed seeing. Now, on November 5, Florida State will reap what it sowed on 4th and 14.

6) Pitt; 11/26/22

The losses of Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison are monumental for Pat Narduzzi, although he still manages to find a way to keep his team competitive, methinks. Adding transfer QB Kedon Slovis from USC is a solid move that will keep the QB position afloat, but losing one of the top WRs in the country will be very difficult to overcome. Miami will have too much firepower, but the Panthers will be surprisingly plucky.

5) UNC; 10/8/22

It’s UNC. They’re a pain in our orange-and-green butts year in and year out. That being said, the reason they’re not higher is replacing Cane-killer Sam Howell will be a huge task, and they must replace 3 on the offensive line and RB Ty Chandler. The reason they’re not lower is the return of Biletnikoff semifinalist Josh Downs and 6 of their 10 top tacklers. This one could be a battle again, I fear.

4) at Virginia; 10/29/22

Virginia’s defense was putrid last year, and Miami took advantage in the second half in Tyler Van Dyke’s coming out party. Unfortunately, QB Brennan Armstrong is back, which makes Virginia’s offense potentially dangerous again. With a new coaching staff in place, it’s hard to figure out what UVA will be this year. I have a feeling it won’t be an easy one though, especially on the road.

3) at Virginia Tech; 10/15/22

Another Virginia school breaking in new head coaches, and the Virginia Tech offense doesn’t scare me much outside of Malachi Smith. However, going to Blacksburg will still be a fair challenge. I will never sleep on the Hokies in Lane Stadium.

2) at Clemson; 11/19/22

Do I even need to mention why it’s this high? It’s Clemson. They’re still loaded with talent, and that defense is going to be nasty this year. The only question is how good their offense will be this fall. Will D.J. Uiagalelei finally take a step forward this year and establish himself as one of the best QBs in the ACC, or will Dabo Swinney turn to 5-star freshman Cade Clubnik. If Miami faces the former, you’d have to think Uiagalelei will have figured things out and solidified the job by then. The environment in Death Valley will be the most difficult Miami faces all year......except for....

1) at Texas A&M; 9/17/22

...the actual most difficult one. The trip to a raucous Kyle Field will set the tone for the season. How far has Miami come this offseason? Can they compete right away with top-level teams? Is the offense ready to transform quickly under Josh Gattis? Can Kevin Steele and Charlie Strong help shore up Miami’s fundamentally-challenged defense from 2021 against a good offense? We’ll find out on September 17.