Miami Hurricanes Odds to Win the 2015 College Football National Championship
by Alan Matthews - 8/1/2014
Does Coach Al Golden have the "U" on the precipice of returning to national prominence? I believe now that the NCAA cloud has totally been lifted that he does. It would take some pretty amazing breaks for UM to play in this season's College Football Playoff, but this program is not far away.
Actually, UM looked back for a while last season. A win over No. 12 Florida early in the year was arguably the biggest under Golden. The Hurricanes started 7-0 and reached a high of No. 7 in the polls. If you looked closely, however, you could see the cracks. The Gators clearly weren't any good, and Miami had two close -- some could argue lucky -- victories over North Carolina and Wake Forest. Florida State put the Hurricanes in their place with a 41-14 win in Tallahassee, although Miami did play well for a half. UM lost star running back Duke Johnson to a season-ending injury in that game, and it changed everything. Miami was then blown out by both Virginia Tech and Duke before rallying with easy wins over Virginia and Pittsburgh. The Canes were outclassed in the Russell Athletic Bowl by No. 15 Louisville, 36-9. Still, a 9-4 record was the team's best since 2009.
Miami Odds to Win the 2015 National Championship Story Lines
This offense will be very run-heavy with Johnson returning. He missed spring ball recovering from his leg injury but will be 100 percent by the fall. Johnson was averaging 6.3 yards per carry when he went down with the injury. He will be the clear focus because UM doesn't know who its quarterback will be with two-year starter Stephen Morris having graduated. The Canes had his replacement in former backup Ryan Williams, but he tore his ACL this spring. Williams says he is well ahead of schedule to return, but it's just not realistic to expect him to be ready to start the season. Thus, the battle likely will come down to redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen, who was terrible in the spring game, or graduate transfer Jake Heaps., the former No. 1 recruit in 2010 at BYU. He had a good freshman season there before things went downhill and he transferred to Kansas. Heaps completed just 49 percent of his passes for eight TDs and 10 interceptions last year for a very bad KU team. Whomever takes the snaps has an electric talent in sophomore WR Stacy Coley and another good one in Phillip Dorsett, whose 2013 season also was cut short by injury.
Miami fans wanted defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio fired this offseason because the young defense was often dominated last year. UM finished 12th in the ACC in points allowed during conference games and 12th in rush defense. After that 7-0 start, Miami allowed at least 26 points in every game. There are seven starters back, led by defensive end Anthony Chickillo, linebacker Denzel Perryman, a likely 2015 first-round pick, and cornerback Tracy Howard. The group also welcomes perhaps Golden's best recruit yet, five-star end Chad Thomas.
Miami's schedule is ranked the 14th-toughest in the nation if you purely go by its opponents' combined 2013 winning percentage. That's a misleading stat because it includes lower-level teams. For example, UM faces Arkansas State on Sept. 13, and the Red Wolves' 8-5 mark gets as much credence as if Florida State had the same record. Miami has opened as a 2.5-point underdog for its opener on Labor Day Night at Louisville in the Cardinals' ACC debut. UM is +120 on the moneyline, and the total is 55.
Win that game, and this team I believe will win the ACC Coastal. Miami will roll the next two weeks at home against Florida A&M and Arkansas State before visiting Nebraska on Sept. 20 in which the Canes surely will be underdogs. The good news is UM gets Duke (Sept. 27), North Carolina (Nov. 1) and Florida State (Nov. 15) at home. The bad is that the Canes even have to play FSU, because UNC and Virginia Tech don't. Miami's ACC road games other than Louisville are at Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Virginia.
Miami 2015 National Championship Odds and Trends
At Bovada , the Hurricanes are 100/1 to win the national title, 12/1 to win the ACC title for the first time and 3/1 to win the Coastal. They opened as slight favorites on the division but have been passed by North Carolina. Miami's wins total is 7.5, with the "over" at -160 and "under" at +130. UM doesn't have odds to make the College Football Playoff. Johnson is 33/1 to win the Heisman Trophy. The Canes were 5-8 against the spread last season (3-4 at home) and 7-6 over/under (4-3 at home).
Miami Odds to Win the 2015 National Championship Picks and Predictions
If Morris was back, I'd jump on UM for sure to win the Coastal, and it would be the clear-cut favorite as it's a pretty weak division this year. So it's hard to judge this club until knowing the quarterback. I lean toward Heaps because he has game experience and Olsen doesn't. I'd still take Miami to win the Coastal. It can beat Louisville, which is semi-rebuilding. I think a club with two ACC losses can still take the Coastal, and UM certainly will lose to FSU. The Canes should win every other game except perhaps at Virginia Tech. I'd go over 7.5 wins as 8-4 should be the worst-case scenario, but I project 9-3. UM then loses a second time to the Noles in the ACC title game, but it's good momentum heading into 2015.
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