Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic were mere formalities for the Miami Hurricanes. There was no chance the Canes were going to lose either of those games.

Before the season, I said something similar about Appalachian State. I called the first three games the “preseason” for the Canes, with the bye week serving as a convenient divider between the freebies and the real schedule.

But (via Vegas Insiders):

Huh?

Okay. So I kind of get it.

Nothing the Miami Hurricanes football team has done in the last 15 years should inspire any confidence. No one should be under any delusion that they can go on the road and walk over a semi-competent team.

And Appalachian State has a giant-slayer reputation having famously beaten Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2007. More recently, they won 11 games last year and took Tennessee to overtime in the season opener this year. So, this is a legitimate program with some recent history of playing well both on a consistent basis and against better competition.

On the other hand…get the hell outta here.

MINUS THREE AND A HALF!?!?!?!?

Is this a joke? Worse yet, this is now being seen as a “big game.” I understand why Appalachian State is excited. No program of Miami’s stature has ever traveled to Boone, North Carolina to play Appalachian State. It’s a cool and proud moment for their program.

It makes no sense for Miami to schedule this game. “All risk, no reward,” or so it seems…

Are you just saying you want to have fun?

The fun part?

“All risk, no reward” became “some risk, some reward” the second the line opened at minus-4.5 and then moved to minus-3.5. All of a sudden, this game went from walkover to real. It reminds me of a famous scene from Seinfeld:

Kramer: Who wants to have some fun?
Jerry: I do.
George: I do.
Kramer: Now are you just saying you want to have fun or do you really want to have fun?
Jerry: I really want to have fun.
George: I’m just saying I want to have fun.

I find myself torn between the Jerry and George camp. On the one hand, it’s fun to win a game when you have doubters, and boy are there doubters out there, via 247 Sports:

Via CBS Sports:

What am I missing here? Nothing that I’ve seen this season changes my preseason notion that this game should be a comfortable win. Yet the spread is around a field goal, and out of the nine predictions I posted, five picked Appalachian State.

Do I just have orange and green glasses on? I have gone down that road before, when I infamously picked Miami to beat Kansas State 52-3 in Al Golden’s first year, only to watch them come up an inch short.

Is this another case of that? Miami hubris? Disrespecting an opponent? Possibly.

Of course, if the Canes do win, particularly if they do so by a large margin, how much fun would that be? Not fun from the standpoint of it being a monumental win. Or from the standpoint of the Canes finally winning a “big” game, because this is not that.

If Miami wins, unless there is some memorable finish like the Duke game last year, we’ll never remember this game. If we lose, it will be a stain on our program that we’ll always carry, much like Michigan does.

But it would be fun to actually just play the way they’re supposed to, and win this game comfortably.

Narratives Don’t Matter, Players Do

So, as far as I can tell, the theory goes that Appalachian State almost won at Tennessee, losing in overtime. They have also never played a home game that is anything close to a game of this magnitude. So the crowd will go crazy, and the atmosphere will be electric, intimidating Miami. Therefore Appalachian State will beat Miami.

The problem with that theory is the actual football angle. Appalachian State struggles to throw the ball. Their starting quarterback, Taylor Lamb, has thrown for a total of 289 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in two games.

In general, Appalachian State struggled offensively against Tennessee, scoring 13 points, seven of which came via a short field after Tennessee muffed a punt. But when they’ve had success, both against Tennessee and Old Dominion, it’s been on the ground.

They ran for 184 and 230 yards in those games. The problem?

Oh right… Miami’s on scholarship too! I know, blocked punts aren’t a defensive stat, but “forget it, he’s rolling.” What Appalachian State does well runs right into what Miami has done better than any team in the country.

And as far as the atmosphere, I expect it to be loud… but the Canes routinely play on the road in big-time venues. The freshmen have played in front of larger crowds in high school. They shouldn’t be intimidated.

It’s certainly possible that Miami loses this game, that Brad Kaaya struggles again, that the Canes grossly lose the turnover battle, that Appalachian State runs the ball well enough that the crowd causes issues, that Miami overlooks the Mountaineers. Upsets happen all the time in college football.

But somewhere, possible crossed the line into probable. And if we’re picking sides, give me the team that has more talent and matches up better with the opponent.

That team is Miami. And it’s time for the Canes to have some fun again.