The Orlando Sentinel has ranked all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. We’ll take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 120 to our projected No. 1 team. We will not be including the four teams the NCAA lists as still reclassifying to the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Today at No. 45: Miami

Coach: Al Golden (6-6, entering second season at Miami, 33-40 overall)

2011 record: 6-6 (3-5 in Atlantic Coast Conference, eighth in ACC)

Look back: North Carolina’s first full season post-academic fraud scandal had its share of successes and its share of failures. After rattling off three straight wins to begin 2011, including one over eventual Chick-fil-A Bowl participant Virginia, the Tar Heels began finding it difficult to establish further winning streaks. Losses to ranked foes Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia came during the regular season, as well as a pair of defeats in two other ACC games. After claiming wins over in-state rivals Wake Forest and Duke, the Tar Heels earned a trip to the Independence Bowl. There, they lost by 17 to Missouri, in its final game as a member of the Big 12.

Offensive starters lost/returning: 7/4

Defensive starters lost/returning: 6/5

Key losses: QB Jacory Harris, RB Lamar Miller, WR Travis Benjamin, WR Tommy Streeter, LG Harlan Gunn, C Tyler Horn, LB Sean Spence, S Jo Jo Nicholas

Top returnees: WR Allan Hurns, TE Clive Walford, DE Anthony Chickillo, S Vaughn Telemaque, PK Jake Wieclaw, Ray-Ray Armstrong

Strengths: Much like another ACC team that made a recent appearance on our countdown, the Hurricanes have had their share of off-field hurdles to overcome in the past two seasons. Like North Carolina, Miami last season dealt with an illegal benefits scandal that rocked the entire athletics department, and forced the football team to suspend several players for multiple games in the fall. While the final punishment on the matter has yet to be handed down by the NCAA, the Hurricanes have still largely made it through the darkest days of the saga. Despite scuffling to a 6-6 win total last season, the Hurricanes grew up quite a bit under then-first year coach Al Golden. Now with an extra year in his system and more time for him to fully implement the way he wants his program run, Golden appears to have the Hurricanes poised for greater success this season. A tough schedule increased the learning curve last season, too. Given the way the Hurricanes battled through a tough year in 2011, there is reason to see optimism in 2012. Their mental makeup should be better, allowing them to better handle challenges they will face this fall.

Weaknesses: One big weakness will be at quarterback. Jacory Harris was a source of frustration, consternation, pride and hope for Hurricanes all in one. His career had its share of highs, and its — mostly documented — lows. Now Stephen Morris comes in and will be the full-time starter without having to battle with Harris. Since he missed spring practice following back surgery, Morris remains mostly unproven at quarterback. In addition to that position, the Hurricanes will face question marks at receiver following the departures of Travis Benjamin and Tommy Streeter. If they can solve these apparent offensive uncertainties, the Hurricanes could have a good season.

Outlook: It is possible that with their schedule, and slight tweaks to their offensive and defensive schemes, the Hurricanes could make 2012 an eight-win year. When they travel to Manahattan, Kan. on Sept. 8, they’ll get a good early impression at just how good they can be. The Oct. 6 “neutral site” game against Notre Dame at Soldier Field in Chicago will be their most hyped game of the year, if not the biggest. A strong showing against the Fighting Irish, and Miami could set itself up quite favorably from a momentum standpoint as it enters the final half of the season. Through October, the Hurricanes should be considered a legitimate ACC Coastal Division contender. How they play against division foes Virginia Tech and Virginia in November will be another indication as to whether or not Golden has the team on the right path.

2012 Schedule

Sept. 1 at Boston College

Sept. 8 at Kansas State

Sept. 15 Bethune-Cookman

Sept. 22 at Georgia Tech

Sept. 29 North Carolina State

Oct. 6 at Notre Dame (Soldier Field, Chicago)

Oct. 13 North Carolina