No. 10 Miami

I am 67. 2% committed to Miami and completely on-board and gung-ho through the month of October—put me on the chain gang.

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After that, put me down as a “maybe.”

Last year’s 10-3 record restored near-total faith and order to a once-proud institution of high-volume, low-attendance football led by a merry mix of no-nonsense marauders.

Miami’s 10-0 start sparked an uproar that, in retrospect, could be seen for the mirage it was—a good team that got ridiculously lucky in a couple close wins that kept it in the national conversation much longer than necessary.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

It was a truncated version of Notre Dame’s 12-0 run to the 2012 national title game, where the Irish pulled off a series of improbable wins, got USC the week after Matt Barkley was injured and then collided unopposed into the front-bumper of Alabama.

Interestingly, that national title wipe-out game was played in the home stadium of this year’s case study.

Miami had us all frothing in 2017 with its high-wire act and turnover “chain” celebrations.

But three finishing losses, to Pittsburgh, Clemson and Wisconsin removed some of that shine.

“We talk about finishing,” star safety Jaquan Johnson said at ACC media day this summer. “…We didn’t finish strong.”

It is for that reason Miami’s forecast is more like a TV weather report filed from a bleach blonde hired straight off a cabana chair at South Beach.

“Sunny with a chance of Peach Bowl.”

Yeah, that sounds about right--Miami should be good.

The crux of the defense that created 36 turnovers and created the sideline “chain” is back.

That passing of links ritual could have come off as joke-ish or disrespectful had Hurricane defenders not backed it up.

“If we got three turnovers last year, it would have been mocked,” coach Mark Richt said.

Miami’s offense should also be sound with the return of quarterback Malik Rosier and tailback Travis Homer, who stepped in so admirably last year for injured Mark Walton.

The prospect of an opening-day win over LSU, in Arlington, should help rekindle the spirit of last year’s race-car start, especially considering the next four games are Savannah State, Toledo, Florida International and North Carolina.

Can Miami then pull off another miracle against Florida State, just like last year? Sure, why not, and then could keep the Canes highly-ranked and unbeaten into early November.

At that point we’ll see how Miami has matured under Richt who, while only in his third year, is already the most tenured major coach in Florida.

Miami faces two tough November away games against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech before closing at home against Pittsburgh.

It was the Pitt loss, last year, that exposed Miami and set-up a 38-3 knock-down blow against Clemson in the ACC title game.

And while Miami players love to say “It’s all about the U,” this year’s mantra needs only a slight adjustment: “It’s all about how U finish.”[/membership]

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