CHICAGO -- Greetings from a chilly Soldier Field, where temperatures are much colder than what Miami left behind in Florida.
Forty degrees colder to be exact.
Cold weather and Florida teams generally do not work well together, and temperatures are expected to hover in the upper 30s and low 40s as the game goes on tonight. That is just one intangible to keep an eye on as the Hurricanes take on No. 9 Notre Dame.
The other, of course, is what a win like this could do for Miami.
No question there remains a lot of skepticism about the Hurricanes. Though they have won back-to-back games in heart-stopping fashion, there are still plenty of flaws Notre Dame could exploit. Flaws that we saw clear as day the last time Miami played a nonconference game on the road, against Kansas State.
That game is not far from people's minds. In fact, it is a question that has been asked repeatedly this week. How do we know Miami is any better than the team that got worked at Kansas State in Week 2? Two comeback wins in ACC play are great, but those two teams are not exactly the cream of the crop in the ACC.
Beating a Top 10 team -- and Notre Dame at that -- would validate Miami. And it would make the ACC look much better than it does today. The Coastal Division is an absolute trainwreck. Virginia Tech gave up 48 points today; North Carolina is ineligible for the postseason; Virginia is a mess. That leaves Miami and Duke as the class of your Coastal.
Now back to the larger point, more than appearing to be the class of the Coastal. Miami would instantaneously elevate the ACC. Rather than talk about the misery that is the Coastal, folks would talk about Miami being "back," and just in time, with No. 3 Florida State being "back." The ACC desperately need Florida State and Miami to be good, with all their history and tradition and national championship.
And national name brand recognition.
Miami is not a perfect team. But it doesn't take a perfect team to win a game. We'll see if Miami can pass this test.