In his second season at his alma mater Mark Richt had the Miami Hurricanes on the verge of a CFP berth. The Canes opened 2017 with 10 straight wins and won their first ACC Coastal Division title. However, the season will be remembered more for the way it ended rather than how it began. Following a win over Virginia that moved the Canes to No. 2 in the CFP rankings, the wheels came off, and it wasn’t pretty. Miami suffered its first loss to a four-win Pitt team, was hammered by Clemson in the ACC Championship and fell to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl.
LSU has the unenviable task of playing in what many believe is the toughest division in college football. If they somehow beat Alabama, there’s Auburn standing in their way. Texas AM should make some noise with new coach Jimbo Fisher and Mississippi State is loaded with talent. Nobody is picking the Tigers to win the SEC West and that’s fine with Ed Orgeron, as he embarks on his second full season after winning nine games last year. LSU kept is streak of preseason top-25 rankings intact, but barely. The Tigers are No. 25 on the AP poll and could make a huge leap with a win over No. 8 Miami at ATT Stadium.
Miami Hurricanes vs LSU Tigers
Date and Time: Sunday, September 2, 2018, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: ATT Stadium, Arlington, TX
Week 1 College Football Odds at BookMaker.eu: Miami -3.5, O/U 46.5
Miami vs. LSU TV Coverage: ABC
Orgeron went back to the drawing board to try and improve his team’s offense. The hiring of Matt Canada prior to last season didn’t work out and he’s out of the picture, leaving Steve Ensminger as the new coordinator. And it may take some time for the OC to find any production from an inexperienced backfield. Between Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice, the Tigers had four years with a NFL-caliber back. The current rotation of Nick Brossette, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Lanard Fournette has yet to score a collegiate touchdown.
The quarterback position is unsettled as well. Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow was named the starter earlier in the week after a long struggle with Myles Brennan, leaving plenty of moving parts on the offensive side for Orgeron and Ensminger. Defense will be LSU’s strength with coordinator Dave Aranda back for another year. The Tigers ranked fourth in the SEC last season surrendering 316 yards per game and they could be better with more depth to suit Aranda’s attacking style.
The Canes’ crash at the end of last season won’t have an effect on the 2018 team, at least it shouldn’t. If anything it’ll make Malik Rosier a better player. Back for another season, Rosier aims to put that difficult season-ending stretch behind him. His overall numbers weren’t spectacular, but with a special defense that garnered national attention through its turnover chain, they didn’t need to be.
Rosier completed 54 percent of his passes for 3,120 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2017, but his struggles were magnified down the stretch. His percentage slipped to 44.9 and he had more picks than TDs over the final three games. Seven starters from a defense that held opponents to 21 points per game and amassed 31 takeaways return, led by linebacker Shaq Quarterman. But the group also had problems over the last three games and correcting them will determine how good the Canes will be in 2018.
Matchup to Watch
LSU is breaking in a new coordinator and quarterback, the backs are inexperienced, and the line dealt with injury concerns over the summer. The group is a big question mark heading into the opener and they’ll face one of the better defensive clubs the ACC has to offer. Orgeron may have gotten his guy in Burrow, who played well in two seasons at Ohio State, but he’ll likely take his lumps learning the system.
Burrow completed 63.6 percent of his passes last year, but all his snaps came in garbage time when the Buckeyes were comfortably ahead. Going against a defense as fast and athletic as Miami’s will be a new experience, and trying to escape Quarterman, Gerald Willis and Michael Pinckney won’t be easy. The Canes win this game if the defense shows up, and it will.
Miami vs LSU Free Picks
Two good defensive teams against a pair of suspect offenses leaves us wondering how this one is going to exceed the total. LSU may eventually have a potent offense, but all signs point to that not being the case in Week 1. There are just too many holes that need to be filled and Burrow has zero snaps in games that matter. You have to start somewhere, I guess. But doing it against Jacksonville State is much different than doing it against Miami.
The Canes have the more experienced players and Rosier is looking to put that late season disaster behind him. Miami has the weapons to contend in the ACC and they aren’t far off from getting back in the CFP picture. Travis Homer gives the Canes an edge in the backfield and that should be enough for a cover win in a game that also has the under as the smart play.
Miami vs. LSU ATS Pick: Miami -3.5 and the Under at BookMaker.eu
Miami vs. LSU Score Prediction: Miami 21, LSU 13
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