Heading into Saturday’s game at Georgia Tech, the Miami Hurricanes needed one victory in their final three regular-season games to qualify for a post-season bowl.
But be assured, even if the Canes end up clinching a bowl berth, it won’t be like last year’s prize of the Capital One Orange Bowl, a game Miami nonetheless squandered in its own stadium, falling to Wisconsin 34-24 to finish 10-3 overall.
If the Canes, who were 5-4 overall and 2-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference before Saturday, were to get that crucial sixth win, they’d have a shot at a number of lower-tier bowls affiliated with the ACC.
How does Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl sound? That one is at 8 p.m. on Dec. 20 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The opponent would be a team from the American Athletic Conference. SI.com and Bleacher Report projected the Canes will be in this one, with SI.com predicting USF as Miami’s opponent and Bleacher Report predicting Memphis.
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Or what about the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl at 1:30 p.m on Dec. 26 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas? CBS Sports post-season expert Jerry Palm projects Miami will meet Cal there.
Another option if UM hits that sixth victory would be the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. That game pits a Big Ten team vs. an ACC team at 5:15 p.m. on Dec. 26. Yahoo! projects the Hurricanes will meet Purdue there.
Yet another prediction, by Athlon: UM vs. Louisiana Tech in the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 27 in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Canes last played in the former Duck Commander Independence Bowl, at Independence Stadium, where they lost 24-21 to South Carolina to end the 2014 season under Al Golden.
And here’s another bowl Canes fans know all too well about: the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, where UM fell 20-14 to Washington State in 2015 and 33-17 to Notre Dame in 2010. It snowed both years. This year’s Sun Bowl is at 2 p.m on Dec. 31. ESPN’s Mitch Sherman projected UM vs. Cal in the Sun, while Jason Kirk of SB Nation projected UM vs. Oregon. The Ducks are coached by former Hurricanes assistant coach/offensive lineman Mario Cristobal.
UM could also possibly land in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman, at noon Dec. 31. That game is played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura projected UM vs. Cincinnati.
There are other ACC-affiliated bowls, among them the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at 5:15 p.m Dec. 27 at Yankee Stadium in New York City, but UM would need to win more than just one game, possibly all three, to get in some of them.
“It’s important, but we’re going to do it,’’ offensive guard Jahair Jones said this past week about qualifying for a bowl game. “I have faith. It ain’t over yet.’’