It might take a crack squad of psychoanalysis to properly dissect all the emotions Canes Nation has been going through leading up to Tomorrow's game against Ohio State. To put it simply though, a win in this game would feel better and be more monumental than almost any other win the Hurricanes have had in the past few years. If they lose, well, yeah, let's not talk about that.
Of course, Ohio State isn't a conference rival or a regional rival. They're not even a traditional rival in any sense. The Canes and Buckeyes have only met three times before, but it was the last time they met, in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl with the National Championship on the line that adds all the fire to the game.
In the game's first overtime the Buckeyes were down by a TD. On fourth down on their last possession OSU Craig Kenzle threw an endzone pass to Chris Gamble. Gamble botched it, but of course Miami's Glen Sharpe was on coverage. Sharpe's role in the play was originally deemed legal. Fireworks went off. Fans prepared to rush the field. It seemed the Canes' sixth title was in the bag. Then came the call! The call, the call, the motherfucking call!
OSU went on to score and eventually win the game.
"Just got this question: 'I heard that OSU has the penalty flag encased in glass next to the trophy in athletic center. Can anyone confirm?'" tweeted The U director Billy Corben earlier this week, pretty much summing up 'Canes fans feelings on the matter.
So yeah, the Buckeyes stole a national championship from the Canes on a shitty call. That might have been water under the bridge, say, if the Canes went on to win that sixth trophy since then, but the Miami Hurricanes have never been the same.
They've never played for a championship since. Sure they won the Big East and the Orange Bowl (against Florida State, no less) the following year, but after joining the ACC in 2004 they haven't seen a conference title nor a BCS Bowl game. Coach Larry Coker was fired. The Orange Bowl was demolished. The 2007 Canes were the first squad not affected by sanctions from the school to flat out miss any Bowl game in 25 years. There was a long, sad run where the team, once near constants in the polls, dropped out of the rankings all together.
Those saddest of sad times are well behind us now. The Canes had a respectable season last year, and go in to tomorrow's game ranked 12th in the nation. A recruiting class, rich in local talent and lead by QB Jacory Harris, is finally maturing. For the first time in his career as head coach Randy Shannon finally has the same offensive and defensive coordinators he had they year before.
Yet, Ohio State is ranked number two in the nation and have the home field advantage at their notoriously hostile stadium.
Even as noted by the team's official blog the 'Canes are the almost universally picked underdogs, but the athletic department knew scheduling an away game against OSU (to be followed by a another away game against Pitt) wasn't going to be a cake walk. But to make statements, you have to take risks.
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A win tomorrow for the 'Canes may mean revenge if you're inclined to look backwards, but it means even more going forward. For the first time in years you wouldn't be crazy to talk about the 'Canes in the title game. Any AP voter who kept the team out of their top ten would be crazy. Hell, we'd also finally give the ACC much needed respect.
Of course, a loss isn't a season killer. Ohio State is a solid team. They're the universal favorites. An ACC championship and an Orange Bowl ticket would still be well within the teams' grasps.
So, in a certain sense, the Canes go into tomorrows game with everything to win, and by most observations, nothing to lose.
But, really, that's getting ahead of ourselves. All we can do, as fans, is go into the game with a healthy dose of optimism and hope we get a chance to cheer like hell at the end.