University of Miami

Can the Miami Hurricanes win their marquee opener vs. LSU? ESPN analysts think so

The eighth-ranked Miami Hurricanes will kick off their 2018 football season in just a few short hours against No. 25 LSU in Arlington, Texas.

And if the college football analysts on ESPN’s College GameDay are right, UM will leave its marquee matchup at AT&T Stadium on Sunday night with a win.

All four on the set when they talked about the Hurricanes-LSU matchup — Lee Corso, Desmond Howard, Kirk Herbstreit and host Rece Davis — spoke optimistically about the Canes ahead of the opener, praising the defense and overall talent coach Mark Richt has on his roster heading into his third season leading UM.

The one universal sticking point: senior quarterback Malik Rosier.

Rosier finished the 2017 season with 3,120 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while completing 54 percent of his passes. He helped Miami start the season 10-0 and get quality wins against Florida State, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. However, he struggled down the stretch as the Hurricanes lost their final three games to Pittsburgh, Clemson in the ACC Championship Game and Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl.

“This is coach Richt’s best overall team since he’s been at Miami,” Corso said on the show. “He’s got eight starters on defense and he can match LSU’s defense. The question is will Rosier, the quarterback, how will he play? He was 10-0. He played great. And then, 0-3. He played lousy. The question is the quarterback at Miami, how is he going to play?”

Herbstreit added: “I like Miami to win this game. I think this defense against [LSU quarterback] Joe Burrow, making his first start as a transfer coming over from Ohio State, I like the defense to lead the way. But big picture, like Lee said, this could be one of his best teams that he had in his three years, maybe the best, but Malik Rosier, you keep talking about those last three games. What I remember about him in those last three games is being indecisive. Not getting rid of the ball. ... He’s had an entire offseason to get better. Mark Richt and his offensive staff has had an entire offseason to get better around him. They’re better at wide receiver. I like Miami in this game to beat LSU.”

Richt knows that there is praise going around about where the UM program is heading but said he isn’t ready to consider his team in the upper echelon of college football programs just yet.

“We’re not elite until we win enough games to say we’re elite,” Richt said this week. “People want to say we’re pretty good, even top-10, but who knows? We’ll find out once we play ball.”

A big win to open 2018 would help Miami and Richt get one step closer and stay in that national conversation like they were last year.

“A year ago, they came out like gangbusters,” Howard said. “They had the turnover chain. They were 10-0. ... And then they went up to Pittsburgh and Pitt knocked them off. And then they played in the ACC Championship Game against Clemson and Clemson destroyed them. And then they practically had a home game against Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl and Wisconsin took care of business. If they open up the season with another ‘L’ after all that hype last year, I think people are going to think that they’re a fraud because it was like ‘The U! The U is back!’ and all of that. If they lose [Sunday] night, it’ll feel like they’re a fraud.”

As for who Howard thinks will win?

“I like Miami to beat LSU,” he said.

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