5 Games to Watch in '08

The Hurricanes will open up the 2008 season turning a page on its history and starting a brand new chapter of its history. CanesTime.com's Larry Cole examines the five must see games of 2008.

Honorable Mention: November 1st v. No. 23 Wake Forest
Wake Forest is an ascending team in the ACC while the Hurricanes have been on a steady decline in recent years. In a late season showdown with Wake Forest's Jim Grobe, the Hurricanes will have to test how far along their coaching has come in the past year.

5. September 20th @ Texas A&M
The Hurricanes face one of the toughest out of conference road trips in the country as they will have to travel to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville on September 6th and then two weeks later trip to College Station to Kyle Field to take on Texas A&M. Last season's 34-17 win over Texas A&M was the last marquee win the Hurricanes would have at the Orange Bowl over the then 20th ranked Aggies. A&M, much like Miami, would be on the decline throughout the rest of the season and have hired a new head coach in the process in former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman. Will the Hurricanes be able to control a potent Aggie running game again? How will first year quarterback Robert Marve fare in his first two contests in two of the toughest places to play in the country? How will the Hurricanes come off a game versus Florida two weeks prior? This is a benchmark game for the season that will determine how much moxie the Hurricanes will have in 2008.

4. September 27th v. North Carolina
Last season's 33-27 loss to North Carolina began the downward spiral of the 2007 Hurricanes. The Tar Heels stormed out to an early 27-0 lead going into half time only to have their lead evaporate to seven by the end of the first half. Despite the effort, the Hurricanes came up short as quarterback Kyle Wright would throw two fourth quarter interceptions to seal their fate. The Hurricanes would only win one final contest (at Florida State) the rest of the season. This year, North Carolina travels to Miami Gardens to take on the Hurricanes in the Hurricanes first game in ACC play this season and first home game against a FBS opponent. Butch Davis' boys are poised to be an ascending team in 2008 in the ACC and a win would mean a lot for the North Carolina program on the recruiting trail.

3. November 13th v. No. 17 Virginia Tech
This late season show down between the Hurricanes and Hokies could very well determine the Coastal leader going to the ACC Championship. The Hokies are coming off an 11-3 season and trip to the Orange Bowl. The defending ACC Champions have had the Hurricanes number in recent years winning four of the last six contests and enter the season as the favorites to win the Coastal Division once again. This game will be a true test for the Hurricanes and how they have developed throughout the season. Last seasons 44-14 loss was one of the final nails in the coffin of a 5-7 season everyone in Coral Gables will want to forget. Will the Hurricanes be able to remain consistent and competitive through all twelve regular season games? This game will be a good barometer.

2. October 4th v. Florida State
Despite both Miami and Florida State in the process of rebuilding their dynasties, they never seem to disappoint when they get together for their annual showdown. Last year was no different despite combing for a 12-13 record in 2007. The Hurricanes needed a touchdown in the final two minutes of regulation to defeat the ‘Noles in Tallahassee on October 20th. This year, both schools will feature the next generation of players to play in one of college football most heated and most watched rivalries as both teams jockey for position in winnable divisions of the ACC. The Hurricanes currently hold the all-time advantage in the series 30-22.

1. September 6th @ No. 5 Florida
After a tune up against FCS Charleston Southern, the Hurricanes go under the lights in Gainesville in a matchup that will be the barometer for how close they are to returning to greatness. A win will change the perception of Hurricane football under Randy Shannon after going 5-7 in year one, while an impressive win by the sure to be heavily favored Gators will put them into a position to make a run at a National Championship. Robert Marve will make his first start as a collegiate player coming off his one game suspension and be thrown into the fire immediately against a Gator defense that can get to the quarterback. The rivalry dates back to 1938 and the Hurricanes haven't lost to Florida since 1985 going 6-0 since.

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