[twitter-follow screen_name=’JTWilcoxSports’ show_count=’yes’]
BY J.T. WILCOX | Staff Writer
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When Miami takes the Doak Campbell Stadium field Saturday night for its 60th meeting all-time with rival Florida State, UM fans will be watching the nationally-televised (8 p.m., ABC) game hoping for something good to happen.
Any glimmer of hope.
Some will be hoping for a Canes victory – clinging to the notion that their team’s performance last Thursday was an outlier and that Miami will put on one of its best performances of the season and take down the undefeated, No. 12 (AP) ranked Seminoles.
These are your current students, recent alumni, most players on the roster, and anyone with the last name Golden, Coley or D’Onofrio.
Others will be pessimistically watching and waiting for the proverbial bottom to fall out – thinking back on how this Hurricanes team struggled with FAU for a half; surrendered a 23-point fourth quarter lead to Nebraska and, of course, lost to Cincinnati, a team that gave up 53 points to Memphis and lost to Temple.
These are your older alumni, your alumnus football players, your die-hard fans, your casual fans, your old ladies who yell “run boy!” at the TV no matter what’s going on and generally anyone who has ever seen a football game.
The outcry for Miami athletic director Blake James to give Al Golden the Joe Philbin treatment is at a deafening level. Banners continue to be flown over stadiums in which Miami is playing – begging for change.
Even the staunchest Canes supporter (apologist) is beginning to question their position – it’s hard to take up for a team that has only converted 13 of 53 third downs through four games and has given up an average of 181 yards on the ground in the past three contests. Plus, Miami has lost its past five meetings with FSU.
But the reality of the situation – or at least the one that can be deduced based on the actions of the school’s higher ups in the recent past – is that not much will happen for the Canes win or lose this weekend.
If Miami pulls the upset, most will be happy. It would represent Miami’s biggest win of the season, make a nice impression towards recruiting, and it could signify that the 2015 Hurricanes are one game closer to that elusive ACC Coastal title.
In the win, others will look at it as more time bought for Golden and his staff against a team that is good, but flawed.
Still, Florida State represents Miami’s toughest opponent to date. During his tenure with the Canes, Golden has never defeated the Seminoles.
He came close last season – his team holding a 23-7 lead before falling 30-26 to an FSU squad that would reach College Football’s final four.
But anyone grasping at last year’s performance for traction heading into Saturday’s game must be reminded that that Miami team had seven eventual drafted professional football players on it.
And to steal Rick Pitino’s hilarious words: “they aren’t walking through that door fans.”
Sure, Florida State was hit hard by graduation and the draft too, and this year’s FSU team – while undefeated – is far from unbeatable.
But what FSU does have left – a Heisman candidate running back and a talented defense that ranks sixth in the country in points allowed per game – is Miami’s bane.
Dalvin Cook got the best of Miami in last year’s matchup. The sophomore and high school teammate of Canes 2015 leading rusher Joe Yearby scored the go-ahead touchdown last year while running for a game-high 92 yards.
Cook has been bothered by a left hamstring injury since the Seminoles’ win over Wake Forest last week, but he’s participated in practice the past two days and appears like he’ll be in action Saturday.
If Miami loses this game, it’ll be the Canes’ second straight loss and the “catastrophizers” will say that UM is [insert your negative adjective of choice] and that Golden should be asked to turn in his orange tie before he leaves the sideline.
But as much as people want to question Golden’s ability to coach the team, recruit, eat spaghetti and tie his shoes, his job appears to be safe. There’s been no inkling from the school that it would be prepared to move on from Golden because of the result of a football game.
Miami losses this game and Golden talks about how the team needs to “rely on its training” and that “unity will overcome adversity” while fans flood sports talk show phone lines to express their – valid – grievances and plead for changes.
Ultimately, win or lose, things will stay the same for the Hurricanes.
If they win, it’s like putting a Band-Aid on your forehead for a headache.
On the outside you did “something”. It’s tangible and on the surface – you’re on the road to recovery. But underneath, the headache remains because this team’s flaws and pains will surface again.
Lose the game and the headache doesn’t really get worse, it just turns up the volume on the noise.