The U’s are back!
Well, no back back. For now, they are right back on the football field, where the 14th-ranked University of Miami Hurricanes face the best-placed University of Alabama Crimson Tide in both teams’ season opener in 2021 this Saturday.
But before Sunday we know if ‘the sticks are back – as back to dominating the college football world.
To recognize college football fans at the start of the season, we thought it would make sense to provide a practical dandy primer ahead of the biggest game, ‘Canes has played this year.
Here’s everything you need to know about the season opener at the University of Miami.
Who, what, when and where
Nr. 14 Miami Hurricanes vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Date: Saturday, September 4th
Time: 15:30 EDT
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
What does Vegas have to say about Miami vs. Alabama?
Vegas does not think Miami has too great a chance against Crimson Tide. Earlier this week, Miami ranged from a 17.5- to 19-point underdog.
Most places are 61.5 over / under for combined points scored during the match. Miami is +650 to win straight. (For the uninitiated, that means you win a whopping $ 650 if you place a $ 100 bet on a Miami win.)
Alabama Football Diss Track
If you missed it, New Times caught up with a Hurricanes fan who last week posted this glorious music video on YouTube. See it in its entirety so you can celebrate Miami swagger at its scariest. Consider it homework.
The quarterback advantage
Coincidentally, one of the few places on the field where Miami is expected to have an advantage over Alabama is the most important: quarterback. ‘Bama starts Bryce Young, who has some college football experience. Meanwhile, Miami D’Eriq King, one of the most experienced QBs in college football – is older than Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa and a Heisman Trophy candidate. Whether King’s teammates play well enough for this advantage to reveal itself is another story.
How Miami Can Pull Out the Disorder
There is no preseason in college football. So if there was ever time to play Alabama, Miami could very well play them at their worst: the first week of a season in which No. 1 team replaces offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, quarterback Mac Jones running back Najee Harris, wideouts DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle and three offensive linemen.
Better now during all the chaos than later, right? It certainly seems that way.
Why Miami is in big, big trouble
Choose a reason, really. There are many to choose from, to be honest: Alabama is stacked with the best high-school recruits from Seattle to New York to Miami and even abroad. They choose who they want, and not the other way around, like most schools.
The biggest reason Alabama is favored by nearly three touchdowns? Miami’s defense. Especially the linebackers. Miami is recovering after losing a couple of vital playmakers in defense. Like Alabama’s offense, they also learn on Saturday as well.
The Manny Diaz Moment
Miami vs. Alabama is a big game, but for Manny Diaz, it’s a career-defining moment. A win over Nick Saban and Alabama is likely to catapult Diaz toward a longer career in Miami. A loss and another season with three losses like last year could mean he is heading out of town sooner rather than later.
On Saturday, the fork is in the way of Miami’s coach. Win or lose, Hurricane fans will have a better idea of what to do after this season. A loss would drop Diaz to 14-11 as ‘Canes’ head coach, which is not exactly acceptable.
Kirk Herbstreit’s prediction
ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit recently told about the Miami-Alabama game and predicted “Miami can hang out” and “be competitive.” But in the end, he thinks, ‘Bama will win.
That’s what Herbstreit is had to say: “New quarterback in Bryce Young, you’ve got new running backs, a lot of new receivers,” Herbstreit said of Alabama. “‘Bama will rely on old-school’ early on ‘Bama defense and play smart on offense. I think because of that I can not see a blowout. I think [quarterback] D’Eriq King and Miami can hang out and I think they can be competitive. I think ‘Bama wins the game, but I think’ the sticks can compete. ‘
What if Miami actually wins?
If Miami beats a No. 1 Alabama team to start the season, they will be a top-five team the next time they take the field against Appalachian State. As the position stands today, they would only meet a more ranked team the rest of the way (No. 10 North Carolina on October 16). Outside of a matchup with FSU in Tallahassee on November 13, there is no reason Miami could not run the table and end the season as one of the top two teams in college football.
Great if. Huge whose. All of this is based on the fact that Miami is the kind of team that beats Alabama so does not slip and lose to Duke. But a win this weekend means a tilted poker table where the chips easily fall in the lap the rest of the season.