Miami Hurricanes Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
Mark Richt has now been at Miami for a year, and I still am not sure I am used to the idea of that. His 9-4 record in his return to the site of his college glory is impressive enough by itself, but what is more striking is that the Hurricanes already seem to have some mojo back. One of the great programs of the 1980s and 1990s has been some degree of embarrassing ever since their last national title in 2001. College football is better when Miami is good.
Richt is looking for a glorious second act, and he's bringing defensive coordinator Manny Diaz - a guy who was viewed as a defensive genius when he was hired at Texas and then was fired mid-season two years later - along for the redemption ride. Chapter 1 of their story was solid. Will Chapter 2 continue the upward trajectory?
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2016 in a Nutshell
The season was a sandwich - four wins at the start, five wins to finish, and four straight losses in the middle. The first four wins hardly count - the opponents barely had a collective pulse. And the losses weren't horrible - they lost to Florida State by a single point, lost competitive games at Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, and lost at home to North Carolina in the only result they would probably really like to have back. They got back on track, though, earning a decisive win over a Pitt team that gave a few very good teams real problems last year, beating three lesser teams handily, then earning an impressive win over West Virginia in their bowl game. All in all it was a strong first season, and provided it a whole lot to build on.
Key Additions and Departures
Let's start with what the team hasn't lost. They have five experienced and solid offensive linemen back - though they will need to be much more consistent opening up room for the run. A pretty good defensive front seven is all back. Mark Walton is an excellent running back who broke a lot of nice plays despite the line issues, and Ahmmon Richards was an outstanding receiver as a freshman who has a chance to be just plain special this year. And they are a very strong special teams that stays intact. That is a whole lot to work with. There were losses, though. They team had an impressive nine draft picks, and that included three members of the secondary and two big pass catchers, including first-round tight end David Njoku. That leaves them with holes to fill, but despite the generally underwhelming performance on the field in recent years there is still plenty of talent to work with.
Richt has a lot of talent, in fact.
The biggest issue, though, is a glaring one - QB Brad Kaaya is now with the Detroit Lions, and he was a huge piece of this offense last year. Like seemingly everyone in the division this year, the fate of the season depends on how well they can replace their signal caller. They have some decent options, but none are particularly proven - only one has game experience, and he has thrown just 61 passes. Through the spring none of the three stood out. One will have to in a hurry or Richt's big offense improvement of last year could disappear - and the hopes of overall improvement with it.
Richt has never struggled to recruit, and he did well here. He brought in a Top 15 class with plenty of upside. It might be short on immediate contributors, but that's a good thing in my eyes - you never want to need young guys to shine.
Miami Hurricanes Schedule Analysis
The good news for Richt is that as long as they get decent QB play then the floor is eight wins. That is the number of manageably soft games. The difference between maintaining and significant improvement, though, comes down to four games. In Week 3 they play at Florida State. That will likely be a loss, but it is a chance to make a massive statement against a serious national contender. And then in November they play Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and at Pitt. All three of those games are winnable if the team is any good, and they have plenty of time to find their game before then, but nothing is guaranteed. The upside, then, is probably 11 wins and seven conference wins. It only took six wins to win the division last year, so this is a team that definitely has a berth in the ACC Championship Game in their grasp.
2017-18 Miami Hurricanes Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has Miami at +3300 to win the national title, which points them in a group of teams behind the top dozen contenders. That seems a little aggressive in my eyes - especially because the road to the playoff almost certainly goes through either Florida State or Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. They are tied with Louisville as the third choice to win the ACC at +550, though well behind favored Florida State at -110.
The team was remarkably consistent last year - they covered the spread every time they won and failed to every time they lost. They were favored in 11 of 13 games, too, so it's not like they were just squeaking by as underdogs. They were less attractive to bet on the totals, going "under" seven times and "over" six.
2017-18 Miami Hurricanes Predictions and College Football Picks
I like this team, and I really like their schedule. I expect 10 wins and a division title. Richt was the right hire, and he will continue to pay off.
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