The night was labeled as “Zero Dark Thursday” by North Carolina fans.
On October 17, 2013, the Miami Hurricanes came into North Carolina undefeated with a matchup against FSU just two weeks away. Miami had all the momentum, but going into a tough environment, the matchup had “trap game” written all over it.
Midway through the third quarter that’s exactly what it looked like, a trap.
The Hurricanes were down a touchdown, and what should’ve been a runaway victory against a then four-loss team, turned into a struggle.
Miami would go on to win the game late in the fourth quarter. But a game that should’ve given ‘Canes fans confidence, instead provided uncertainty.
This week the 2015 Hurricanes will face off against the Cincinnati Bearcats on the road. In many ways, this game is a lot similar to that matchup in Chapel Hill. This year; however, Miami has a chance to prove the doubters wrong and avoid the type of close matchup that will only increase fans’ nerves going into FSU.
The Bearcats are coming off a loss to the Memphis Tigers, but at home on a Thursday Night, Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati is expected to be rocking.
The Miami Hurricanes are in a completely different place, and at a completely different point in the season than the Cincinnati Bearcats. Miami is coming in undefeated, while Cincinnati is coming in at 2-2.
But momentum doesn’t necessarily mean success.
In the past, Miami has not been able to handle the pressure; going 6-7 in 2014, and losing 4 out of their final six games in 2013. These statistics are the types of results that have fans calling for Al Golden’s job, and demanding changes to be made.
But if this Miami team wants to prove they are different than those from years past, they must come out firing on all cylinders and finish the game strongly.
Those surrounding the program have been adamant in stating they are still ecstatic about the win, despite the fact that they nearly blew a 23 point lead late in the game. Regardless of whether or not as a fan you agree with their assessments, the players feel they have learned from this experience.
“Unity kills adversity,” Senior starting linebacker Raphael Kirby said. “Our leadership, our comradery, the great leadership we have in the locker room. It was a test of our leadership once again. Adversity hit; we killed it with unity.”
And if Miami wants to have the strong season they desire, that unity is going to be crucial.
The difference is a thin line for Miami, who undoubtedly has also put forth dominant performances on Thursday nights.
Last season, the Hurricanes went to Blacksburg, Virginia to face Virginia Tech; in what is arguably one of the toughest places to play in the nation.
What Miami fans saw in that matchup; however, was completely different than what fans witnessed against North Carolina. A 24 point romping finally showed Hurricanes fans this team is capable of avoiding a letdown performance.
The ‘Canes ended that season poorly, but on Thursday night this year’s Miami has a chance to continue proving times have changed. They can prove disappointment is a thing of the past.
The 2015 Hurricanes have talked the talk about being unified, and on Thursday night their second real test of the season arrives. They must walk the walk.
If the past is any real indication, then this tough road matchup can go one of two ways. The ‘Canes can have a huge letdown and allow this game go down to the wire, or they can prove they are a stronger team than years past and enter their most highly anticipated game of the season against FSU with momentum.
The choice is theirs.
Game Prediction: Cincinnati’s high powered offense wears down on Miami early. Most of the Hurricanes’ defensive stops come off of turnovers and the Bearcats put up 31 points. Despite a nice offensive output; however, Miami’s athletes and talent are simply too much to overcome. Wide Receiver Rashawn Scott puts forth yet another performance with over 100 receiving yards, and the Hurricanes get the job done.
Final Score: Miami 41 Cincinnati 31