After suffering a disappointing 33-17 loss to LSU to start the season, the Miami Hurricanes have been rolling. The Hurricanes have a 5-1 record at the halfway point after their 28-27 comeback victory over archrival Florida State.
The Hurricanes' defense has been among the best in college football, currently ranking second in the country at 237.3 yards per game allowed. They also have a plus-six turnover margin through six games.
Now the Hurricanes hope to keep rolling as they have some key ACC road games coming up against Virginia, Boston College and Virginia Tech left on the schedule.
Offensive MVP: QB N'Kosi Perry
The Hurricanes' offense has looked entirely different since Perry became the starter. In four games, Perry has thrown for 646 yards, 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Against Florida State last Saturday, Perry threw four touchdown passes as the Miami rallied from a 20-point third-quarter deficit to win 28-27. Who knows where the Hurricanes would be if Malik Rosier was still the starter. Good thing the Hurricanes will not have to find out.
Defensive MVP: DT Gerald Willis
Willis has been one of the most dominant defensive tackles in college football during the first half of the season. He has 28 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks. For his outstanding play, Willis was named the Outland Trophy Defensive Player of the Month for September. Willis has been the catalyst for the Hurricanes' No. 2-ranked defense.
Best Moment of the First Half: Comeback vs. Florida State
Down 27-7 in the third quarter, Miami scored two touchdowns in a 42-second span to start what would be a historic rally. Perry then connected with Brevin Jordan for a 41-yard touchdown that proved to the game-winning score. The Hurricanes' first home win against the Seminoles since 2004 was made possible thanks to their largest comeback in the rivalry's history.
Best Newcomer: TE Brevin Jordan
The Hurricanes have had some bad luck with tight ends this season. First, it was Michael Irvin II suffering a knee injury during fall camp. Then Brian Polendey sustained a right knee injury which will cause him to miss the rest of the season. Jordan, a freshman, has filled in well with 15 catches for 174 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner vs. Miami.
Biggest Surprise: RB DeeJay Dallas
While Travis Homer is the Hurricanes' leading rusher, Dallas has been impressive in his own right. He has 369 rushing yards and two touchdowns, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. He also has been a weapon on special teams, averaging 14 yards per return.
Three Things to Watch in the Second Half
1. Hurricanes' tough road schedule
Miami has four road games remaining and none of them will be easy. It begins this weekend in Charlottesville against Virginia. Then the Hurricanes will play Boston College in Chestnut Hill on Oct. 26. After that, Miami returns home to play Duke before going back on the road to play at Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, the latter of which could determine the ACC Coastal Division title.
2. Can N'Kosi Perry continue his hot start?
Perry has been solid since he took over as the Hurricanes starting quarterback. It will be interesting to see if he can continue his strong play once more and more teams get more film on him. Virginia Tech is usually solid on defense and that game is in Blacksburg, so Perry will have to play well if the Hurricanes want to return to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game.
3. Can the Hurricanes' defense carry them to an ACC title?
Speaking of the ACC Championship Game, can Miami finally win that elusive conference title that has been the goal since joining the league in 2004? Clemson is still considered one of the best teams in the country, but the Tigers don't appear to be nearly as good as they were a season ago. Also, they are breaking in a freshman quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. While Clemson should still be the favorite, Miami can certainly make it a more competitive game should those two meet in Charlotte again.
Ranking the Toughest Remaining Games on the Schedule
1. Nov. 17 at Virginia Tech
This most likely will decide the ACC Coastal Division title. It is never easy to defeat Virginia Tech in Lane Stadium. The Hokies should be favored in all of their games leading up to this one.
2. Oct. 26 at Boston College
AJ Dillon should be rested up and ready to go against the Hurricanes on a Friday night in Chestnut Hill. Quarterback Anthony Brown also has been solid with 14 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.
3. Oct. 13 at Virginia
The Cavaliers will be coming off a bye week to take on the Hurricanes at home. Quarterback Bryce Perkins will present some problems for the Miami defense considering he can move outside of the pocket. The Hurricanes also will have to look out for running back Jordan Ellis.
4. Nov. 3 vs. Duke
The Blue Devils have been sneaking under the radar as they only have one loss on the season and that was to Virginia Tech on Sept. 29. Playing Duke is always difficult because David Cutcliffe-coached teams hardly ever beat themselves.
5. Nov. 10 at Georgia Tech
Head coach Mark Richt has a lot of experience playing against the triple option dating back to his days with the Georgia Bulldogs. While the Yellow Jackets did give the Hurricanes everything they can handle last season, this is a game Miami should win.
6. Nov. 24 vs. Pittsburgh
Miami will be looking to exact revenge against the Panthers. It was Pitt that ended the Hurricanes' perfect season and started off the four-game slide that carried over into this campaign. At home, look for the Hurricanes to win big against an inferior Panthers team.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.