Wednesday, October 2, 2013

4 Reasons Why the Canes Can Win the ACC

Unranked. That's what Miami was before the season started. Four weeks in and that's no longer the case with the Canes storming through opponents in impressive fashion. As they shift their attention to conference play, their sights are set on that ACC title.

If you take a look at the college football betting lines today, you'll find that the Canes even jumped up in the BCS odds to 25-to-1, tied with LSU. A BCS Championship bid is not up for discussion this season but Miami looks like more than just a flash in the pan. They have a legit shot at taking not only the ACC Coastal division but the ACC Championship altogether. Here's why:

1) Canes acting like grown men, not children

This is not the Canes team from a season ago. The game against Florida proved that. We are witnessing the maturation of a team that believes in itself and is buying into coach Al Golden's philosophy.

It's always been "All About the U" but this season it's really all about W.

A year ago, Miami would've likely been trampled by the Gators. Just look back to the embarrassing dismantlement they suffered at the hands of Kansas State in 2012. The Canes were blasted to the tune of 52-13; a gut check moment that brought a swarm of criticism to this program and its direction.

Fast forward to today and we've got different story lines in the papers. Miami's players have grown since then and are boasting a poise and confidence that was nonexistent just a year ago.

2) Weakness in the ACC

The reality is that the ACC isn't as strong as many expected. Outside of Clemson and Florida State, there seems to be a clear notch down in the remaining ACC pool. Teams like Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech haven't performed up to expectations thus far, raising Miami's hopes for the ACC Coastal title.

If The U can secure the Coastal division, they'll only have to worry about Clemson or FSU in the ACC title game. Both of those teams are ranked above Miami but so were the Gators before they strolled into Sun Life Stadium.


3) Favorable schedule ahead for Miami

The only remaining ranked opponent for Miami at this point will be FSU on November 2nd. They start their conference match-ups this weekend, beginning with Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Realistically, Miami should stay undefeated through October. It will be the Seminoles that pose the largest threat to Miami this season - a rivalry game that is truly unpredictable every single time.

If the Canes can emerge victorious, they have an opportunity to go undefeated in the ACC as well as in overall record. That's a lofty goal that seems unlikely at this point but isn't out of the question.

4) Canes have depth at key positions

Start at the top with the quarterback position. Stephen Morris is the clear-cut starter for this team and has done a solid job at the helm. At the same time, he's suffered a few injuries that have sidelined him for portions of a couple games.

That's where Ryan Williams comes in, whose filled in and completed 22-of-31 passes for 369 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. Add to that his 71% completion rate and he's done a great job backing up Morris thus far.

As for running back, you've got Duke Johnson as the bonafide back for the Canes - posting 388 yards, 4 TDs and 6.3 yards per carry. But right behind him is Gus Edwards, who has 185 yards, 3 TDs and 6.6 yards per carry (on half as many carries as Duke). Even Dallas Crawford has pitched in on short yardage situations with 5 TDs on 20 carries.

The receiving core also has a wealth of talent, boasting seven different WRs with at least one TD this season. Allen Hurns leads the way with 16 catches for 275 yards, followed by Herb Waters, Phillip Dorsett and Stacy Coley. Those four alone have combined for seven TDs.

On defense, The U has recorded seven interceptions by six different defenders. Plus, they've forced seven fumbles by seven different players as well. That's what you call team defense, making plays across the board. That ranks Miami 10th in total defense and 8th in points allowed (12.5 per game).

The Canes have convinced themselves that this is their year. Are you convinced?

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