Canes have huge test Saturday

The University of Miami will finish out its regular season this Saturday when they play at North Carolina State. It'll be Miami's last chance to impress the different bowls, a chance to revenge last season's loss to NC State, a chance to get the Georgia Tech taste out of their mouths, and a chance to show the nation that Miami is still on its way to being back.

Embarrassed.

That's probably the best way you could describe Miami following their blowout loss to Georgia Tech on Thursday night. That game in Atlanta was a chance for the Hurricanes to clinch a spot in the ACC Conference Championship Game. It was a chance to finally know what it feels like to win a game when ranked. It gave the team a chance to make another statement on national television.

It didn't happen. The offense struggled to score points in the first half and the young defense did not do a good job of playing assignment football. Georgia Tech's 41-23 win over Miami is now in the rear-view mirror. It's time to move forward.

Next up for the Hurricanes is a team that many people thought would be very beatable after the first few weeks of the season. All of a sudden, N.C. State has won a few games in a row and has looked very good the last couple weeks, winning at Wake Forest and then blowing out arch-rival North Carolina on its home field.

The Wolfpack will come into the game with arguably the league's hottest quarterback, an offense that does a nice job of executing a lot of high percentage plays, and a defense that has done an excellent job of creating a lot of turnovers lately.

All of a sudden, this N.C. State team looks like it's playing as good as anyone in the conference. It will be a very tough challenge for the Hurricanes but isn't that what this team needs after getting throttled last Thursday? Isn't a team that just waxed a North Carolina team that came into Miami and won earlier in the season just the right opponent to get motivated for this week?

The Canes have made tremendous improvements under second year head coach Randy Shannon. They're a better football team than a year ago. It's a more talented team than a year ago. It's a more disciplined team than a year ago. It's a deeper team, a more exciting team, a hungrier team. You name it, and Coach Shannon and his staff have improved that area of this football team.

Saturday will show us a lot. It'll show us how well the second-year Shannon can get his team to rebound after a tough loss. It's a chance for Shannon's team to grab a tie of the Coastal Division in his second year. It's a chance for the team to gain some momentum heading into the month of December, when the Canes will prepare and probably play a bowl game. It's a big test for the Canes.

This young team has done a tremendous job of growing up as this season has progressed. What they do between now and Saturday and how well they prepare for a very good N.C. State team should tell us just how mature they've become.

It's a great opportunity and should be a great football game. I know I'm looking forward to it, and I'm sure this entire football team is too.


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