Just how good are these Miami Hurricanes?
To answer that, I turned to the FootballOutsiders' F/+ system -- the only system to adjust for competition level, pace, and garbage time.
But remember, these are super accurate ratings of a team's season to date, not necessarily how good a team is right now.
Do I think Miami is a better team than these numbers indicate? Yes, I do. Why?
The main reason is that Miami simply has not had all its players this year due to the suspension. Their absence really hurt Miami in several key losses; most notably against the Maryland Terrapins -- a bad football team. The absence was felt not only because of the lack of production, but also because Miami didn't know which players would be suspended until shortly before the season started! Can you say lack of cohesion? As those players got back, the team started to really, really improve.
And remember, we expected this to be a good Miami team. In fact, we said this would be Miami's last realistic shot to beat the 'Noles for a while, given Miami is one of, if not the oldest team in the ACC (21 seniors, etc) and the fact that Miami is not replacing the talented older players with talented recruits (19 of Miami's 25 commitments are rated as 3-stars or less).
Is Miami's offense really the second best in the country? Perhaps. With an excellent offensive line, the best running back since C.J. Spiller, two NFL wideouts, and Jacory Harris legitimately playing better, this is a very good group. Plus, FSU fans should be familiar with this scenario from 2009: a defense that consistently puts the offense in really bad spots. To date, Miami has faced the third hardest schedule of defenses in the country. Another reason you might not realize this? Pace. Miami plays very, very slow in order to protect the defense. But on a per-possession basis, they are very very good.
So yes, this is a legitimately excellent offense. Now how about that defense? It has been the 92nd worst defense in the country, but is it today the 92nd worst a team could run out on the field? Highly doubtful. I don't honestly believe Miami's defense is worse than Duke's defense, but it has played worse over the course of the entire season.
It's important to remember that almost all of Miami's injuries and suspensions have come on the defensive side of the ball. Miami's defense was terrible at Maryland, v. Kansas state and at Virginia Tech earlier in the season. After getting some of those players back, the defense has improved some.
But that still doesn't make this a good defense. Miami's corners are not very good. They have issues in the linebacking corps (mostly injury related) and some issues on the defensive line. Is this the worst defense FSU will face this year? No, but it's not much better than FSU's non-Oklahoma opponents to date.
That's my take on what FSU is facing. More to come tomorrow in the preview, obviously.