Entering the day, I knew that there were seven games involving unbeatens about to be played and I was confident from the time I got up at 7AM to read and write my game previews for various media outlets that it was going to be a special day for the University of Miami Football Team. Although it is irrelevant, the only result that I even remotely cared about THAT didn't come true is that BYU remained unbeaten, allowing them to complain if they run the table is that they beat every team that lined up on the opposite side of the field than their squad. I am not going to lose ANY sleep over the unlikely event of that happening.
Many would have liked to have seen the Virginia Tech Hokies win so that a victory by Miami over a Top 5 undefeated Bowl Championship Series team would helped make us look good in the quality wins department. However, upon further contemplation, Virginia Tech's loss to the Orangemen HELPS the ‘Canes in two very important ways. First, were it not for the Syracuse victory, Miami would – after our game against Temple next week – have had only two games left against BCS quality opponents with Syracuse appearing nowhere on the radar. It brings an instant credibility to The Big East by giving us three Top 25 BCS RATED TEAMS – which take into account strength of schedule. Similarly, the Boston College victory against Notre Dame was equally important, for had the Eagles not Beaten the Irish, not only would they not appear anywhere among the rated teams (as they would have been left off of at least one of the two ballots, if not both, entirely), but Notre Dame – had they won the game – would have been 4 and 3 with victories over all three Big East Teams that they had played and been in Bowl Contention for one of the Big East conferences Top Tier bowl slots. NOW that ain't going to happen.
The victory by the ‘Cuse over the Hokies finally allowed enough voters to take notice of what the computers already have; that they are a team with a ton of momentum and should have been recognized by the pollsters at least a week ago. Having been one of just two teams in NCAA football that has been able to beat the ONLY team – Auburn – that has managed to beat Florida to this stage of the season. Similarly, Boston College's victory over the Irish was unbelievably important with BOTH of their losses coming against Top Fifteen – ‘quality win' – BCS teams. Ergo, due to a big win by Boston College over Notre Dame and, at the very least equally important, the Orangemen's win the Hokies moved the Big East from the ranks of the pretenders to the contenders. Thus, in one fell swoop of a weekend, the Big East has doubled its' number of "BCS quality teams" from two to four. We now have four games against BCS quality opponents (with Washington at #11, Va. Tech at #15, Syracuse at #22, and Boston College at #32) left to play.
Hence, Miami's victory over twice beaten Florida State, now at #18 looks all the more impressive with their victory over previously unbeaten ACC front-runners the Maryland Terrapins. There's now a slew of once-beaten teams in the ACC (as well as the Pac Ten, The Big Twelve, and if one's willing to count non-conference losses, The Big Ten as well). The ‘Noles are the highest BCS team with two losses, there is less and less argument that they will win out their ACC schedule and I am beginning to perceive a buzz among writers who feel that FSU may just go into the Swamp and shock the Gators. A lot of writers feel that this Seminole team, despite its inexperience and puzzling game plans, simply has too much pure talent to enter bowl season with three losses before they even play in a bowl game.
Congratulations to Joe Paterno, both for selfish reasons in turning what was a disastrous start to a season to two stirring straight come from behind upsets against heavily favored Northwestern and Ohio State in back-to-back weekends. Congratulations for tying the Bear at 323 wins and passing him at home – and rightfully being carried off the field – while breaking the record at 324 wins. Not only that, but Penn State seems to have found themselves a real gamer in QB Zack Mills. The Nittany Lions are favored this weekend and are likely to be favored for three consecutive weeks. Therefore, is it not entirely conceivable that they run the three-week table as favorites, pick up an upset in one of their final two games at Michigan State and / or the University of Virginia and become bowl-eligible? Can you not feel Miami's strength of schedule rising in ranking as you read this article?
One ranking that continues to baffle me is that of the Washington Huskies in regards to the Michigan Wolverines. With the Huskies' only loss being to a team that had a position in the BCS of #3 (UCLA) only a week ago, coupled with a major victory over a Michigan team that barely scraped by Iowa this weekend yet somehow miraculously ranks #4 overall, meaning the Wolverines are the HIGHEST BCS team not involved in the Nebraska-Oklahoma-Miami troika. Mind Boggling!
With the remainders of Miami schedule to be played in five straight back-to-back weeks, I think it is safe to say that we can comfortably put the Temple game in the win column. That being stated, the only team that could run into possible trouble is UW, who are a slight favorite over Stanford at Washington his weekend. I stayed up until close to 3AM early Sunday Morning (while technically it was actually almost 2AM in the East for the second time in an hour due to that turning-the-clock-back thing) think the home field advantage, the exposition followed by the exploitation of Stanford's valiant-in-defeat backup QB Chris Lewis in the second half of the UCLA game, and with first string gunslinger Randy Fasani due out another several weeks, I think Washington should win this game by a Touchdown and a field goal. They follow that up with an easy week against a weak (pun intended) Oregon State Team and then a tough game against once-beaten Washington State at UW. Due to that fact (namely the location of the UW-Wazzou game), I like Washington in all three games leading up to the Grudge Match, but I would gladly settle for the Huskies going two and one leading into November 24th.
Other than the possibility of a Huskies loss, the Miami schedule sets up quite nicely with games against opponents that are likely to have a multi-game win streak (BC, Syracuse, UW, and Va. Tech.) leading into their game against the ‘Canes, with some college football talking heads and scribes looking at the visit to Miami by Syracuse on 11/17/2001 instead of the ‘Canes visit to Blacksburgh, VA on 12/1/2001 as the game to watch for a possible upset.
In my humble opinion, as a team that is clearly improving weekly and has yet to play at the top of its' game, Miami's first game that might not be over by midway through the third quarter will be the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Don't be surprised if the opponent in the fourth quarter of that game, regardless of the team, is not trying to breakup Crudup Jr. to Winslow II screen passes themselves with the starters with their pads off, healthy, and cheering the second and third teamers on from the sidelines.
Here, for your enjoyment, are the BCS ratings that go all the way to 35 (which is as far as it can go currently because if teams do not have votes in the polls then their BCS score cannot be tabulated).
1 Nebraska 2.02 2 Oklahoma 7.59 3 Miami-Florida 7.71 4 Michigan 11.75 5 Texas 14.25 6 Stanford 14.57 7 Tennessee 15.37 8 Florida 16.36 9 UCLA 18.83 10 Oregon 18.87 11 Washington 24.55 12 Washington St 31.30 13 BYU 32.73 14 Purdue 33.93 15 Virginia Tech 34.89 16 Illinois 35.49 17 Maryland 37.45 18 Florida St 38.19 19 South Carolina 41.47 20 Texas A&M 42.02 21 Georgia 42.04 22 Syracuse 44.37 23 North Carolina 46.58 24 Colorado 49.45 25 Mississippi 53.00 26 Auburn 55.09 27 Louisville 58.34 28 Georgia Tech 61.58 29 Fresno St 66.39 30 Clemson 67.14 31 Iowa State 67.27 32 Boston College 70.75 33 Marshall 70.76 34 Michigan St 71.88 35 Toledo 88.77This past Saturday made a future month's worth of nail biting go away in a day. For now ‘Canes and their fans have what they have wanted all along: THE MIAMI HURRICANES NOW ABSOLUTELY HAVE THEIR DESTINY IN THEIR OWN HANDS.
Thanks for reading my article. I hope you enjoyed it.
Scott Martineau is a freelance journalist who periodically submits pieces to grassy.com. If you would like to contact Mr. Martineau, please e-mail him at Smartin780@aol.com if you feel he could be of any assistance to you.