Miami football needs better big game performance to take next step

Dec 5, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami football program needs better performances in big games to return to becoming an elite team. Miami was embarrassed last season in losses to Clemson and North Carolina. The Hurricanes’ season won’t be defined in their season opener against Alabama, but being competitive can make a statement.

In reasons seasons against elite teams, Miami has been dominated. Clemson and North Carolina ran through Miami in 104-43 combined losses. Alabama has dominated Power Five opponents in season openers under Nick Saban. Alabama has won season openers against Power Five teams under Saban by a 25 point average.

In season openers against Power Five ranked teams Alabama has won by an average of 23 points. How Miami performs against Alabama won’t specifically impact recruiting. A pair of recruits have stated how the Hurricanes perform throughout the season will impact their decision on whether or not they will sign with Miami.

Alabama will be a near 20 point favorite against Miami. The Hurricanes will be an underdog when they travel to Chapel Hill to play North Carolina on October 16. Miami will be expected to win their five games in between Alabama and North Carolina. Winning those five games should create confidence before playing the Tar Heels.

Miami will host Appalachian State, Michigan State, Central Connecticut State and Virginia before traveling to Chapel Hill. The 2021 season sets up similarly to 2020. Miami began 2020 3-0 before losing 42-17 at Clemson. The Hurricanes won five in a row before the 62-26 annihilation by North Carolina in the regular-season finale.

The Alabama and North Carolina games are likely to bring out the critics. It is difficult to judge any programs except the elite ones against the Crimson Tide. Miami can measure where their program is at against the Tar Heels. The Miami North Carolina game is expected to the de facto ACC Coastal Division Championship Game.

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Miami signed the 11th ranked class in 2021 despite the blowout losses to Clemson and North Carolina during the 2020 season. Manny Diaz and the Miami football staff have proven they can recruit in spite of losses in big games. Winning those games can define a season and help define a program for the near future.