Year: 2007. Setting: The Orange Bowl.
Fans stream out of the dilapidated stadium as Virginia puts the finishing touches on a 48-0 beatdown, helping Miami close down the Orange Bowl in whatever the opposite of style is.
In that moment, I don’t think anyone foresaw the events of the past 9 months, with Miami being the first choice—the only choice—for a meteoric coach from South Florida. The
arrival return of Mario Cristobal to Miami has supercharged the air around the Hurricanes program, energizing fans and alumni alike in support of the new regime. It will take more than fan support for Miami to take major steps forward in 2022, but the path is clear: win all the games they should, shock one or two teams along the way, and they will find themselves in Charlotte come December. After showing last season that he is, in fact ‘Him’, Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke looks run it back, while new OC Josh Gattis will do everything he can to get the running game on track and make things a little easier for Van Dyke in 2022. After revitalizing Michigan’s offense and shellacking of Ohio State in 2021, Gattis heads south to bring Coral Gables with the same spark he brought to Michigan. Recruiting has kicked up a notch already for the Canes, but will the kids be ready to play in 2022, and will the upper classmen buy what Cristobal is selling? Let’s deliberate.
Following opening games against Bethune-Cookman and Southern Miss, a 4 game stretch of at Texas A&M, vs. MTSU, vs. UNC and at Virginia Tech will set the course of the Canes’ season. Even without a win, Miami could build some major momentum and confidence with a strong showing at Kyle Field. Coming home and taking care of business versus a dangerous UNC team would portend well for the leadership of Cristobal and buy-in of the players, and passing a midseason road test at VT would do more of the same. Though not the most difficult of games, past Miami teams would’ve found ways to lose them all the same, and wins or good showings in all 4 would mark a major turning point for the program. If they can come out of the VT game 5-1 or better with a close(ish) loss at TAMU, Miami will be in perfect position to make noise in 2022.
Their ACC slate shakes out well, with remaining road games against UVA and Georgia Tech before a late season game at Clemson. The UVA and GT games sandwich what will certainly be an emotional rivalry games against Florida State, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a letdown at UVA in the lead up to FSU. Miami sits at 6-2 going into the FSU game, and they’ll beat the Noles that in a shootout. After taking out the Yellow Jackets, Miami is 8-2 going into Clemson week.
On the one hand, going to Death Valley later in the season gives Miami time to find its identity before facing the Tigers. On the other, Clemson is coming off its worst season in a decade, and by late November will certainly have shed the demons of 2021. Miami does not match up well yet against Clemson, but much like u(sic)ga and Bama, this rivalry will only get spicier. Miami is 8-3 going into a season ending home game against Pitt. The de facto Coastal championship, Miami takes the victory (9-3), and Mario Cristobal rides out of Hard Rock Stadium on his players’ shoulders. What a homecoming in year 1 as Cristobal leads Miami to the ACC Championship Game in year 1 at the helm. Imagine winning it in year 2.
In Charlotte, Miami shows it has done its homework (unlike UNC) and stymies the same Clemson team it couldn’t handle a month earlier. Tyler Van Dyke puts it all together in a masterclass we haven’t seen since the Joe Burrow LSU days, and when its all said and done, Miami (10-3) hoists the coveted ACC Football. All Dabo can do is lament the legacy media for overhyping his sorry ball club. Better luck next year Dabo.
In year 1, Mario Cristobal shows that Da U is indeed back. And I, for one, am totally here for it.
How do you see things shaking out for the Hurricanes this season?