The Miami Hurricanes are back. Well, at least they think they are after all they accomplished in 2017. The Hurricanes rattled off 10 straight victories to begin the season in Mark Richt’s second year back at his alma mater, most notably a 41-8 thrashing of Notre Dame. However, losses to Pitt in the regular-season finale, Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, and Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl put a little bit of a damper on the season.
Nevertheless, a 10-3 season has the Hurricanes believing that 2018 could be even better. Up until the loss to Pitt, Miami was in the race for a spot in the College Football Playoff. The ‘Canes will no doubt have their sights set on a return to the ACC title game and a spot in the CFP this season.
The oddsmakers are definitely starting to drink the Miami Kool-Aid. The Hurricanes are +45000 to win a national championship, which puts them in the second-tier of teams with a chance to win a title. If you believe the Hurricanes are ready to take another step forward, there’s good value in that bet. Miami is also projected to win 10 games in 2018, matching their total from last year.
Of course, it’s important to recognize why the Hurricanes lost three straight to finish last season and the areas where they have to improve this year. It starts with quarterback Malik Rosier, whose job is not secure despite being an incumbent starter and a fifth-year senior. Rosier was maddeningly inconsistent last season, at times looking like an All-American while other times looking like a walk-on who was out of his depth.
Miami has plenty of receiving talent, but if Rosier can’t be a more consistent passer, Richt could look to one of the team’s three freshmen quarterbacks to take over. There are also a couple questions along the offensive line, which could end up hindering the ‘Canes in big games.
On the other side of the ball, the Hurricanes gained national attention last year for their turnover chain. The gold chain will be coming back this season, along with the best linebacker corps in the ACC. The Miami defensive line is also in good shape heading into 2018. However, the Hurricanes have some key players to replace in the secondary, which is something to watch this season.
The Miami pass defense also struggled down the stretch last year, which is part of the reason why they lost three in a row. With some potential issues on both sides of the ball, it’s difficult to assume that the Hurricanes will be able to win at least 10 games.
|Sep 2||@ Louisiana State Tigers||7:30 PM|
|Sep 8||Savannah State Tigers||6:00 PM|
|Sep 15||@ Toledo Rockets||12:00 PM|
|Sep 22||Florida International Golden Panthers||12:00 PM|
|Sep 27||North Carolina Tar Heels||8:00 PM|
|Oct 6||Florida State Seminoles||12:00 PM|
|Oct 13||@ Virginia Cavaliers||12:00 PM|
|Oct 26||@ Boston College Eagles||7:00 PM|
|Nov 3||Duke Blue Devils||12:00 PM|
|Nov 10||@ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||12:00 PM|
|Nov 17||@ Virginia Tech Hokies||12:00 PM|
|Nov 24||Pittsburgh Panthers||12:00 PM|
Of course, Miami’s schedule is one reason why a 10-win season is still within reach. They open with a neutral site game against LSU, which should be a difficult game, although the Tigers are expected to have a down year. The Hurricanes also have the benefit of playing Florida State at home this year. In fact, that should be the only home game that gives the Hurricanes trouble, as the ACC Coastal is not nearly as strong as the Atlantic Division.
That being said, road games the second half of the season against former Big East rivals Boston College and Virginia Tech do present challenges for Miami. Dropping either of those games could cost Miami a spot in the ACC Championship Game.
Ultimately, there are a few too many question marks to believe that Miami can improve upon last year’s breakout season. They may have to settle for eight or nine wins and second place in the ACC Coastal division. However, it could be just a small step back as Richt definitely appears to have the Hurricanes trending upward.