Miami returns a lot of starters off of a 2012 team that finished 7-5 and would have gone to the ACC title game were it not for a self-imposed postseason ban. The Hurricanes are expected to be better in 2013 as a result, but whether or not they are good enough to claim the division remains to be seen. Miami returns the important skill position pieces from an offense that averaged more than 31 points per game a year ago; the larger questions lie on the defensive side, where the Hurricanes must show improvement to have a big year.
2013 Miami schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
Miami will know relatively quickly how it stacks up within the Coastal -- the Hurricanes host Georgia Tech on the first Saturday of October and follow that up with a Thursday night game at North Carolina. Both of those contests are crucial, especially with Florida State and Virginia Tech to follow. It's that portion of the schedule that figures to dictate how successful the 2013 season is for Miami.
With home games against Florida Atlantic, Savannah State and Florida as well as a road trip to USF, Miami won't be doing much traveling outside of its conference slate. That game against the Gators figures to be the toughest of the season for the Hurricanes, but they are capable of an upset there and should be able to survive the other three contests, putting them in good shape as they head into ACC play.
Following the game against Virginia Tech on Nov. 9, Miami closes out its schedule with Duke, Virginia and Pittsburgh, which puts it in position to hold serve in the Coastal if it happens to have the division lead at that point. Getting to that stage of the season with the lead might be unlikely, but the Coastal could end up a chaotic mess, and the Hurricanes are as capable as any other team of landing on top.