Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2011. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2012.
As part of our 2012 college football season preview, we’ll be running through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.
Team: Miami Hurricanes
Opponent: Kansas State
Last Year: Loss, 28-24 vs. Kansas State
This Year: September 8, @ Kansas State
In a season full of close calls (their six losses were by a combined 33 points), the ‘Canes early defeat versus Kansas State should’ve told us all we needed to know. With just 49 seconds left on the clock, and the ball on the goal line, QB Jacory Harris just had to punch it in. And yet, he couldn’t do it and Miami would go on to suffer their second of six grueling defeats. State, on the other hand, would pull off another close call amidst a series of them all season. The Wildcats ended up surprising everyone at 10-3 overall; the exact opposite of Miami’s campaign of misfortune.
Kansas State’s main weapon was (and still is) quarterback Collin Klein. And yet, the formidable Hurricanes defense was able to hold him to a little over 220 total yards and three scores. I say “hold” only because of the tear Klein would end up going on throughout the season, and how many “good” defenses he’d embarrass through his 13 games. All in all, Miami’s loss came down to third-down efficiency on defense (K-State converted nine of 15) and State’s solid ground game as a team (265 yards). Even so, they found themselves down just four with under a minute to go, but could not punch it in from the goal line. That failure to execute (a running them of 2011) still provides a haunting feeling to head coach Al Golden — with much of last year’s team departed to the Draft.
This season, the Wildcats will come in well-regarded, while the ‘Canes have been offered little hope in a lame-duck season as they await NCAA ruling on their status. Right off the bat, we’ll figure out how both teams will respond to the circumstances, and just how inexperienced Miami’s young squad really is. Most positions are still very much up in the air (Stephen Morris has still yet to be named the starting quarterback), so this early matchup comes at the best and worst time for the U. For the young players, it’ll either instill confidence, or break it completely, and there’s really no telling which one to expect right now. Miami has very little chance to win this one, but should they, it’ll be one of the biggest early upsets and a potential jump-start for a team with everything and nothing to play for.