Miami vs Louisiana State
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
ARLINGTON – It won’t take long for No. 8 Miami (Fla.) and No. 24 LSU to find out whether they will be contenders for the national championship. They come right out of the gate with their first challenge in a rare primetime Sunday night matchup in Arlington, Texas.
“Until you play somebody, you really don’t know,” Miami third-year coach Mark Richt told reporters. “There are no warm-up games here. We will be physically and mentally tested. It will be a gut check, at the very least. … When you play LSU, Game 1, in this type of game, in this setting that we’re going to be in, you can’t help but think, ‘I better get ready.'” The Hurricanes were surprisingly ready last year, running out to wins in their first 10 games to earn their first-ever ACC Coastal crown and putting themselves smack in the middle of the national title talk before a not-so-fabulous 0-3 finish dashed their hopes. LSU had the opposite kind of season with a 3-2 start followed by a 6-2 conclusion, but it is hoping to avoid a repeat by getting off on the right foot in a venue that is supposed to be neutral although it may be decidedly pro Tigers based on its vicinity to Louisiana. “I know our fans are going to be excited to take over that stadium and turn it into Death Valley,” said coach Ed Orgeron, whose Tigers are 3-0 at AT&T Stadium, with all wins coming over ranked teams.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Miami -3.5
ABOUT MIAMI (2017: 10-3): The Hurricanes are set at quarterback with returning starter Malik Rosier, who emerged as a dual threat last year with 3,120 yards passing and 468 running while setting the school single-season record for total touchdowns (31), but he has something to prove after a dismal showing during the team’s 0-3 finish with five interceptions and a 44.9 completion percentage. Rosier’s receiving corps will be bolstered by the return to health of Ahmmon Richards, who followed up his record-setting freshman season with an injury-plagued sophomore campaign, while even bigger things are expected from running back Travis Homer (966 yards rushing in 2017). The Canes defense will be fast and aggressive as usual, with each defender hungry to wear the famed turnover chain – 11 of the 16 players who wore it in 2017 return, including preseason All-American safety Jaquan Johnson (four interceptions, two fumble recoveries) – and they may have their chances against an inexperienced LSU offense.
ABOUT LSU (2017: 9-4): The Tigers will have a different starting quarterback for the season opener for the 16th time in the last 21 seasons and they open with a new quarterback-running back combination for the third straight year. Graduate transfer Joe Burrow (Ohio State) will make his first college start behind center in new coordinator Steve Ensminger’s more pass-oriented offense, winning the job over sophomore Myles Brennan, while senior Nick Brossette finally gets his chance after making just one start for the Tigers but he has big shoes to fill with the departure of star running back Derrius Guice. After surrendering just 18.9 points and 316 yards per game last year, defense is where the team will excel immediately and give Rosier his first big test, spearheaded by a pair of preseason first team All-Americans – junior linebacker Devin White and sophomore cornerback Greedy Williams.
1. LSU leads the all-time series with Miami 9-3 after defeating the Hurricanes 40-3 in the 2005 Peach Bowl.
2. The Hurricanes are kicking off the season with their first true neutral-site matchup since Aug. 29, 1999, when they defeated Ohio State 23-12.
3. Orgeron won two national titles as a University of Miami assistant from 1988 to 1992.