First two weeks to define Canes’ season

When news broke about the NCAA’s investigation into the University of Miami, Al Golden was entering his first year as the Hurricanes’ head coach. His team was coming off a disappointing 7-6 season, and a cloud of uncertainty hovered over the program.

Now just days away from his third season, Golden fields a veteran team with plenty of preseason hype, a renewed sense of expectation, and finally, some closure to the investiga….

Eh, we’re still waiting on that one.

The Hurricanes will kick off for the first time in 2013 with a Friday night matchup against the Florida Atlantic University Owls at Sun Life Stadium.

Although there is plenty of excitement among the fan base for that matchup just so they can say the season has officially begun, everyone’s eyes are locked on Sept. 7.

The hated Florida Gators are coming to town. That’s right. Let the venom flow through you.

It’ll be the first time since 2003 that the rivals from up North grace Miami with their presence (cough). That year the Hurricanes were able to come back from a 33-10 deficit in the third quarter and rally to a 38-33 win.

Two meetings between the schools have taken place since, including a 27-10 win for Miami in the 2004 Peach Bowl, and the last meeting, where Florida erupted in a 26-3 win to break a six-game losing streak to the Canes.

The hype for this matchup is obvious just in watching how season ticket sales have played out this year. No single-ticket deals remain officially; the only way to get one is to purchase one of the few season tickets left. The second hand market is always an option, but the cheapest options there are upwards of $100 as of Saturday.

It’s an exciting time to follow the Hurricanes. This team in particular is already being named the favorite to come out of the ACC Coastal Division and contend for the first ACC Championship in school history. The offensive unit may be one of the more prolific in program history.

Both senior quarterback Stephen Morris and sophomore running back Duke Johnson are dark-horse Heisman candidates, and they will benefit from a veteran offensive line and an arsenal of receivers around them.

The wild card, as it has remained over the past two years, is the NCAA. Two self-imposed bowl bans and numerous scholarship reductions in, it remains to be seen what they will ultimately rule as additional punishments (if any) for the alleged booster scandal.

The hammer could drop at any moment, and everyone around the program is ready for the wait to end.

In the meantime, get prepared for a season that has the potential to be special. One thing is for sure: We’ll know more after week two.