Miami is finally back in the national mix after a long hiatus. The Hurricanes started a third straight season unranked, but jumped to No. 15 in the AP poll after a 21-16 upset of then-No.12 Florida early September.
Atlantic Coast Conference play got underway at Sun Life Stadium last weekend where Miami knocked off Georgia Tech and climbed to No. 13, the same place it opened the 2010 season.
The Hurricanes are now 5-0 for the first time since 2004, and while Miami is certainly a much-improved squad on both sides of the ball, “The U” is finally on the receiving end of some beneficial scheduling early this season.
Over the past few years, not so much.
Miami opened 2009 at No. 18 Florida State, welcomed No. 14 Georgia Tech a week later, trekked to Blacksburg to take on No. 11 Virginia Tech and headed back home for a showdown with No. 8 Oklahoma. The Hurricanes earned a 3-1 start, but hit some mid-season conference road bumps against Clemson and North Carolina, proving that Miami didn’t have enough left in the tank after the brutal four-game start.
A year later, three straight away games after the season opener. Road trips to Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Clemson were followed by a home showdown against Florida State. Seven games and three losses later, fourth-year head coach Randy Shannon was fired.
First-year head coach Al Golden not only dealt with the NCAA bombshell and early season suspensions in 2011, but had an immediate mountain to overcome personnel- and schedule-wise. …
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