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Breaking Down the Canes' 2022 Schedule

Breaking Down the Canes' 2022 Schedule

by Christy Cabrera Chirinos

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – When a new season begins this fall, the Hurricanes will return a high-powered quarterback who became the ACC Rookie of the Year after being pressed into duty.

A talented group of young defensive backs and speedy receivers are back, too. So are some high-powered running backs. And there’s the two-time national champion offensive lineman who has come home to lead his alma mater.

A new era of Miami football is set to begin in a little more than seven months. Now, new head coach Mario Cristobal, quarterback Tyler Van Dyke and the rest of the Hurricanes know the challenges that await them as they bid to win the program’s second Coastal Division title and return to the ACC Championship Game.

Miami’s schedule features three home games in September and some tests on the road late in the year. A longtime rival will come to Hard Rock Stadium looking to erase the memories of its last visit to South Florida and an early-season bye means the Hurricanes will close the season with games on eight straight Saturdays.

But the Hurricanes – who are already working through their offseason conditioning program – vow they’ll be prepared for that late-season marathon and everything else that lies ahead.

“You’ve got to preach, teach [and] emphasize physicality and resiliency in everything you do. At some point in time, the weather isn’t going to be great. You’re going to have to buckle up,” Cristobal said in December of the physicality he wants to see from the Hurricanes. “Your team, the trademark of your team needs to be one where people don’t want to play you because you bring that physical brand. You can’t proclaim that. I can’t sit here and say this is automatic…You’ve got to work. You’ve got to grind…It’s critical and it will be a trademark of our team.”

Here, a look at the matchups on Miami’s 2022 schedule, which was announced Monday night:

Sept. 3, vs. Bethune-Cookman

Hard Rock Stadium

Miami’s opener against Bethune-Cookman will mark not just the Hurricanes’ return to action after a 7-5 campaign in 2021, but the debut of Cristobal as the 26th head coach in program history.

The veteran coach who led Oregon to three straight Pac-12 title games has been embraced by fans and former Hurricanes players alike and on this first Saturday in September, they – and the rest of the college football world – will get their first look at Cristobal’s Hurricanes.

Miami’s first game under its new coach will come against a Bethune-Cookman team that won two of its last three games in 2021, but finished the year 2-9. The Wildcats and Hurricanes have met five times, with Miami winning each of those matchups and outscoring Bethune-Cookman 232-37 in those games.

Sept. 10, vs. Southern Mississippi

Hard Rock Stadium

The second game of Miami’s early-season, two-game homestand will come against an opponent the Hurricanes have never faced: the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles.

The Golden Eagles posted a 3-9 record last season, but will feature a revamped roster that includes 14 junior college transfers and nine Division I transfers. Among them are veteran safety Tylan Knight, who appeared in 47 games at Ole Miss and totaled 78 tackles during his time with the Rebels, and redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Bryce Ramsey, who appeared in 23 games for Mississippi.

But it is one of Southern Miss’ returning players that could get a cheer or two when he takes the field: running back Frank Gore Jr., the son of Hurricanes great Frank Gore and a former standout at Miami’s Killian High. Last season, Gore Jr. rushed for a team-high 801 yards and five touchdowns and even pitched in as an emergency quarterback who had two touchdown passes in the Golden Eagles’ win over Louisiana Tech.

Sept. 17, at Texas A&M

Kyle Field, College Station

One of Miami’s biggest early-season tests will come in Week Three when the Hurricanes make their first trip to College Station since beating the Aggies there 41-23 in 2008. Last season, Texas A&M posted an 8-4 mark and notched one of the biggest wins in college football when the Aggies upended then-defending national champion and top-ranked Alabama 41-38 in October.

The Aggies are led by a familiar face – head coach Jimbo Fisher, whom the Hurricanes faced yearly during his eight-year tenure at Florida State.

The coach will be working with a new quarterback as Zach Calzada – who threw for 2,185 yards and 17 touchdowns – transferred to Auburn during the offseason. Redshirt sophomore Haynes King started the season, but missed most of the year after a serious injury. He’ll likely be competing with LSU transfer Max Johnson and early enrollee Conner Weigman for the starting job and the Aggies will have plenty of talented youngsters on the roster after signing one of the nation’s top classes during the Early Signing Period.

Sept. 24, vs. Middle Tennessee State

Hard Rock Stadium

The Hurricanes will return home to finish the month of September and close out non-conference play against Middle Tennessee State, a foe they haven’t seen in decades.

Plenty has changed in college football – and beyond – since the last time Miami and Middle Tennessee met in 1931 and 1932, with the Blue Raiders winning the schools’ only two matchups. The Hurricanes scored a combined 13 points in those losses, but that number will more than likely change this time, especially with a signal caller like Van Dyke leading the Miami offense.

The Blue Raiders finished a 7-6 season with a 31-24 win over Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl, their first bowl victory since 2017. Quarterback Nick Vattiato, a former member of the Middle Tennessee scout team, took over for injured starter Chase Cunningham and finished the year competing 67 percent of his passes and throwing for 1,047 yards and seven touchdowns. The South Florida native and former Davie University School standout was selected to the Conference-USA All-Freshman team and will come to Hard Rock looking for a memorable homecoming.

Oct. 8, vs. North Carolina

Hard Rock Stadium

After a week off, the Hurricanes will open ACC play against Coastal Division foe North Carolina.

The Tar Heels own a 14-11 lead in the all-time series after last year’s game in Chapel Hill. The Hurricanes, who at one point trailed by 18, rallied before coming up just short in what was ultimately a 45-42 loss. North Carolina went on to finish the season with a 6-7 mark and closed the year with a 38-21 loss to South Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.

Like several other teams in the ACC, the Tar Heels will be undergoing transition under center with quarterback Sam Howell announcing on Jan. 1 that he’d bypass his senior year to enter the NFL Draft. Howell’s backup last season was Jacolby Criswell, who completed 13-of-21 passes for 179 yards with one touchdown. Also back at quarterback for North Carolina is Drake Maye, who was rated the nation’s No. 9 quarterback by 247Sports in 2021. Those two, head coach Mack Brown has said, will likely compete to be Howell’s replacement.

Along with looking to start conference play on the right note, the Hurricanes will try to end a three-game losing streak to North Carolina. Miami hasn’t bested the Tar Heels since a 47-10 win at Hard Rock Stadium in 2018.

Oct. 15, at Virginia Tech

Lane Stadium, Blacksburg

Like the Hurricanes and several other teams in the ACC, the Hokies have gone through an offseason of change.

Brent Pry – who has previously served as the defensive coordinator at Penn State, Georgia Southern and Louisiana Lafayette and was the co-defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt – was named Virginia Tech’s new head coach in November. The 30-year coaching veteran takes over a team that posted a 6-7 mark last season and finished the year with a 54-10 loss to Maryland in the Pinstripe Bowl.

The Hurricanes won last year’s matchup 38-26 and sent seniors like Mike Harley and Zach McCloud out with a memorable finale at Hard Rock Stadium. Van Dyke, who finished the game with 357 passing yards and three touchdowns, was the first quarterback to throw for 300 yards against the Hokies defense, something Howell and Pitt’s Kenny Pickett were unable to do in early-season matchups against Virginia Tech.

Miami, obviously, will look to replicate that success, this time in its first ACC road game of the year. The Hurricanes hold a 24-15 lead in the all-time series and have gone 8-8 in Blacksburg.

Oct. 22, vs. Duke

Hard Rock Stadium

The Hurricanes have won two straight against the Blue Devils and in neither game was Duke’s offense able to score against the Miami defense.

Last year’s 47-10 victory marked the end of the regular season for the Hurricanes and proved to be a record-breaking day for Miami and veteran receivers Harley and Charleston Rambo, both of whom are now preparing for the NFL Draft.

Van Dyke completed 34-of-49 passes and threw for 381 yards and three touchdowns against the Blue Devils and his effort marked the sixth game in which he threw for 300+ yards.

Duke is another one of the ACC teams that underwent a coaching change this offseason and new coach Mike Elko takes over a team that posted a 3-9 record last year, was winless in conference play and allowed opponents an average of 517.6 yards per game – the worst among FBS programs.

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Oct. 29, at Virginia

Scott Stadium, Charlottesville

Trips to Charlottesville have proven tough for Miami in the past, with the Hurricanes posting a 3-5 mark at Scott Stadium. Miami will look to reverse that trend and avenge one of their more heartbreaking losses of 2021 when they head to Virginia this fall.

The Cavaliers edged Miami 30-28 at Hard Rock Stadium last fall after a last-second field goal didn’t go the Hurricanes’ way. But Miami found itself having to rally after falling behind 16-7 early and allowing 295 yards in the first half.

Virginia went on to finish the year with a 6-6 mark and underwent a coaching change in December when former Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott took over for Bronco Mendenhall, who resigned at season’s end.

Though the Cavaliers have weathered their share of ups and downs, they got a boost earlier this month when veteran quarterback Brennan Armstrong announced he would return to Virginia for his senior season. Armstrong owns several Virginia records including the single-season passing mark of 4,449 yards and the single-game passing record (554 vs. UNC), both of which he set last year. One of his top targets – first-team All-ACC receiver Dontayvion Wicks, who totaled a team-high 1,203 yards and nine touchdowns, is back, too.

Nov. 5, vs. Florida State

Hard Rock Stadium

It’s one of the most anticipated games every year and this time will be no different, especially after last season’s thriller in Tallahassee.

The Hurricanes arrived at Doak Campbell last November riding a three-game win streak and having won four straight against the rival Seminoles. But Florida State ended both of those streaks when Jordan Travis capped a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown run that came with just 26 seconds left on the clock.

The Hurricanes – who rallied from an early 17-point deficit to take a 28-20 lead in the fourth quarter – weren’t able to rally again in the game’s final seconds and were ultimately eliminated from contending for the Coastal Division title with the loss. Florida State went on to finish the season with a 5-7 record while Miami bounced back to beat both Virginia Tech and Duke in its final regular-season games.

Miami still holds a 35-31 lead in the all-time series, but the Hurricanes know they’ll face another test from their rivals to the north – especially with Florida State looking to erase the memories of their last visit to Hard Rock Stadium: a 52-10 Miami win that marked the first time in the rivalry either team topped the 50-point mark.

Nov. 12, at Georgia Tech

Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta

The Yellow Jackets are coming off a tough season in which they went 3-9 overall, posted a 2-6 mark in conference play and lost six straight to end the year.

The Hurricanes were among the teams to hand Georgia Tech one of those losses, Miami edging the Yellow Jackets 33-30 in November at Hard Rock Stadium. Van Dyke threw for 389 yards in the win – his second-best performance, passing-wise, of the season.

Jahmyr Gibbs, who led the Yellow Jackets with 1,805 all-purpose yards last season, transferred to Alabama and though his loss will make a difference in Atlanta this season, Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins has added to the Yellow Jackets’ roster by using the transfer portal himself. Ex-Akron quarterback Zach Gibson has announced he plans to join Georgia Tech, as have former Notre Dame safety Khari Gee, former Louisville running back Hassan Hall and former Auburn safety Ahmari Harvey.

The kind of impact all those players have remains to be seen, but the Hurricanes will look to improve their record against Tech in Atlanta, where they’ve struggled in the past. The Hurricanes are 5-10 in games played at Georgia Tech.

(Photo by JC Ridley/University of Miami Athletics)

Nov. 19, at Clemson

Memorial Stadium, Clemson, South Carolina

The second game of Miami’s late-season road swing figures to be one of the toughest challenges of the year: a visit to perennial powerhouse Clemson.

The Tigers are coming off a 10-win season and finished the year with a 20-13 win over Iowa State in the Cheez-It Bowl. And while Clemson fell short of its bid to bring home its 21st ACC championship and head coach Dabo Swinney has seen both his offensive and defensive coordinators take head coaching jobs elsewhere, the Tigers are already popping up in the top 10 of more than a few “Way Early Top 25” lists. They are widely expected to be in contention for a return to the College Football Playoff this fall.

Clemson returns a plethora of skill players, including running backs Kobe Pace and Will Shipley, both of whom rushed for more than 700 yards last season. Also back are first-team All-ACC defensive tackle Tyler Davis and fellow defensive linemen Xavier Thomas, Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee.

The Hurricanes will look to snap a three-game losing streak against Clemson, which last hosted Miami at Death Valley in 2020. The Tigers won that game 42-17.

Nov. 26, vs. Pittsburgh

Hard Rock Stadium

One of Miami’s biggest wins last season came in the Steel City when the Hurricanes and Van Dyke upended eventual ACC champion Pittsburgh and Pickett, a Heisman Trophy finalist, 38-34.

When the Panthers come to South Florida this time, they’ll look different but expectations are they’ll still have a potent offense. Though Pickett, the ACC Player of the Year, is projected to be a first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft, his likely successor has a pretty solid resume.

USC transfer Kedon Slovis, the 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, joined the Panthers this offseason after completing 68 percent of his passes and throwing for 7,576 yards and 58 touchdowns during his three years as a starter for the Trojans.

He’ll have several impressive targets to work with, including reigning Biletnikoff Trophy winner Jordan Addison, who had 100 catches for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. The Panthers, who finished the year with an 11-3 mark, also added Akron transfer Konata Mumpfield, who had 63 catches for 751 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman. Defensively, the Panthers return first-team All-ACC defensive tackle Calijah Kancey, who had 13 tackles for loss and seven sacks last season.