It’s all about The U. The Miami Hurricanes are taking the NCAA by storm with their swagger and stellar defense.
The Hurricanes began the season ranked 18th in the AP poll, and now find themselves ranked third in the latest CFP poll, moving up four spots after several of the top ranked teams lost on Saturday.
Notre Dame, who was previously ranked No. 3, was the latest victim of The U. The matchup was one of the most anticipated of the week as the Catholics and Convicts were both ranked in the top 10 with a lot to prove.
If you tuned in Saturday night, it was a rather boring game. Miami blew out Notre Dame 41-8. Miami’s prized turnover chain also made four appearances throughout the night.
This was a statement win for Miami. As of late, nobody has been giving them much respect since they have had a few close calls against unranked opponents and supposedly have a weak strength of schedule. However, they kept moving up in the polls due to their undefeated record.
Now that they have blown out a top-10 team on national television, it is time to start respecting the Miami Hurricanes.
Strength of record
Some fans just can’t get around the fact that the Hurricanes haven’t played big-time competition like Clemson or Notre Dame. The Hurricanes currently rank 21st in strength of schedule, which is the fifth toughest amongst the top 10 teams in the CFP poll. The best teams they have played include Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Toledo.
However, their strength of record is first in the nation. Strength of record is a little more foreign to some fans, but it is not simply saying a 9-0 record is better than 8-1.
Strength of record reflects the chance of an average top 25 team having the same record or better as said team based on their schedule. Strength of record incorporates some strength of schedule in it. Basically what it is getting at is would the average top 25 team have an undefeated record like Miami if they played the same teams.
As far as strength of record goes, Miami is first followed by Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, Georgia and Wisconsin. Despite Clemson having the third hardest strength of schedule, it is still more impressive that Miami has gone undefeated given their schedule than Clemson going 9-1 with theirs.
If fans still want to complain about Miami’s “weak” schedule, they better really complain about Alabama, who ranks 38th and is the No. 1 team in the nation. Or maybe No. 5 Wisconsin, who currently ranks 67th in strength of schedule.
Hurricane Irma and injuries
It has been a while, but remember that Miami had a lot of conflict to deal with early on in the season due to Hurricane Irma.
Miami had to cancel their game against Arkansas State and also had to reschedule matchups against Florida State and Georgia Tech. Miami also struggled in those two games, winning at Florida State 24-20 and beating Georgia Tech at home 25-24 in back-to-back weeks. These two games are a big part of why Miami has not gained the respect of all college football fans.
After having five games scheduled for the month of September, Miami only played three.
Playing those early season games are important for a team to get into rhythm and get ready for conference play down the stretch. Sure, having a week off to rest later in the season is nice to give players a break, but how do you expect to get in shape when you don’t play a game for 21 days? That is what the Hurricanes were dealing with and explains why they were having struggles in the month of October.
Miami also lost their star running back Mark Walton for the rest of the season due to an ankle injury in the Florida State game. In the four games Walton played this season, he had 428 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 7.6 yards per carry. He was already dealing with problems with his other ankle to begin with and still put up numbers like that. Imagine what Miami could be doing with a healthy Walton, who was a possible ACC player of the year candidate.
Along with Walton, one of the team’s top receivers, Ahmmon Richards, has also missed time due to injury, including the Georgia Tech game. Richards has been dealing with a hamstring problem and missed time due to an ankle injury. After being an All-American freshman last season, expectations for Richards were through the roof this year.
All of this can really put pressure on a quarterback to perform, but Malik Rosier doesn’t seem to be letting it bother him too much. After star quarterback Brad Kaaya took off for the NFL, fans weren’t really sure what to expect from Rosier. Throw in all the missed time due to Hurricane Irma and injuries to some of your star players and it makes it that much more difficult.
Despite his circumstances, Rosier has 2,410 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also has 339 rushing yards and four more scores.
Defense wins championships
While the offense has struggled at times this season, the defense has been keeping Miami competitive.
Miami’s defense will wreck you. They rank second in tackles for loss per game (8.8), second in turnover margin (1.67), fourth in forced turnovers (24), fourth in interceptions (16), fifth in sacks (33) and 10th in points allowed per game (16.6). Keep in mind that Miami has had to cancel a game, making their season totals that much more impressive.
This defense held Notre Dame, who ranks 14th in points scored per game at 38, to just eight points. They held Virginia Tech, who is averaging 31.5 points per game, to just 10 points.
Everybody knows about Miami’s turnover chain by now. It’s pretty hard to miss if you have watched any Miami football games or any weekend highlights of any kind.
Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz came up with the idea and has his defense hungry for the football with it. It gives his players that much more reason to force turnovers and look like a boss on the sidelines wearing the prized possession.
Respect The U
It is time to give the Miami Hurricanes the respect they deserve. With the top ranked strength of record, hungry defense and the issues caused by Hurricane Irma and injuries, this Miami team is something special. After those struggles in October, they are playing their best football against their toughest competition.
The U will be facing off against Clemson for the ACC Championship game when the season is all said and done. With Clemson currently ranked No. 2 and Miami No. 3, the stage is set for a historic showdown. Miami is out to prove they are legit and Clemson is seeking their third straight championship game appearance. Get ready.
Featured image by Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images
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