Ah, the college football doldrums of July. With nothing but bad baseball to distract us now that the World Cup is over (both Juan and I share the sorry distinction of being a Cubs fan and I imagine it’s not much easier to cheer for the Marlins), this is easily the must dull time of the sports year for college football fans. It’s far enough away from spring practice and not close to enough to Week 1 that speculating about the upcoming season is pretty meaningless. But we’re bored, so why not? Here’s what I see as the best case and worst case scenarios for Miami in 2014. You may disagree and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
First, let’s break down the schedule and categorize each game with the Hurricanes chances of winning:
Heavy Favorite: Florida A&M (night), Arkansas State, Pittsburgh
Slight Favorite: Duke, Cincinnati, North Carolina, at Virginia
Toss Up: at Georgia Tech
Slight Underdog: at Louisville (night), at Nebraska (night), at Virginia Tech (night)
Heavy Underdog: Florida State (likely night)
These categories are one man’s opinion, but I think it’s a fair assessment. The road schedule certainly does Miami no favors, as they’ll have to go into hostile night atmospheres in all three of their games as slight underdogs. Getting Florida State at home likely actually hurts the Hurricanes in 2014 because that’s a game they’ll probably lose no matter the setting. So based on this assessment, where does that leave Miami in its best and worst case scenarios?
This assumes that Ryan Williams returns promptly to the lineup and is at least close to full strength right off the bat. It also assumes the defense takes some tangible steps forward, if not finding major marketed improvement. Yes, I realize this is incredibly rosy, but that’s the point. Where would that leave the ‘Canes?
Talking purely best case, they would win all the games in the heavy favorite, slight favorite and toss up categories above. The ceiling isn’t infinite from there though. If everything goes Miami’s way, I could see the Hurricanes winning two of the three games against Louisville, Nebraska and VT, but going on the road at night and taking all three is too tall of a task for the program at this stage. Beating Jameis and company also isn’t happening this year (but I would covet tickets to the 2016 Miami-FSU game at Sun Life if you can get them with upperclassman Brad Kaaya at quarterback for Miami and no Winston for FSU). So the best case would see Miami finish 10-2 overall, 6-2 or 7-1 in the ACC. That would likely be enough for the program to earn its first Coastal Division Championship and head to Charlotte.
This assumes Ryan Williams can’t return until at least late September and struggles due to the rust he accumulated. Meanwhile, under this pessimistic venture, the defense would be…pretty much exactly how it’s been for three years now. Wonderful!
Even in the worst case, it’s hard to see Miami losing to Florida A&M, Arkansas State or Pittsburgh. Additionally, I don’t think there’s any chance they lose more than half of their games as slight favorites, even if you try to spin it as negatively as possible. Assuming losses in the rest of the games—this is worst case, remember—that would give the 2014 ‘Canes a final record of 5-7 overall, 2-6 or 3-5 in the ACC. Needless to say, this would be a crushingly disappointing campaign and one that would likely see heads roll from the coaching staff in the offseason.
So, what does this all mean? Mostly nothing. As I said in the outset, it’s the darkest point of the offseason and this should do nothing more than help to pass the time. But I do think this is a solid ceiling and floor for the 2014 team and they’ll certainly end up right in the middle of the two extremes. We’ll roll out a comprehensive preview of the upcoming season here at Canes Warning as the summer progresses where we’ll get into all of this MUCH more in depth, but if you put a gun to my head and forced me to predict the Hurricanes’ 2014 record right now, I’d say 7-5. How about you?