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Miami Hurricanes

Rapid Recap: Miami Hurricanes Close Out Strong, Kaaya Breaks Record

Ari Russell

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(Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire)

The Miami Hurricanes came into their final regular season game winners of three straight. The Duke Blue Devils has had a tough go this season, despite beating North Carolina and Notre Same they came in 4-7. This game was more of a track meet in the first half, with the Blue Devils taking a 14-10 lead causing all sorts of problems with the Canes. However that lead would be short lived as the Canes took a 16-14 lead at half time. Canes would win 40-21.

If you have paid attention to the way Miami has played since their snapped their four game skid, you would notice an anemic start in the first halves, and just an explosion in the second half. The game against Duke on Saturday, followed that trend almost exactly to script.

When Brad Kaaya connected with TE David Njoku for a 76 yard TD, it was clear that the Canes were going to take control of this game. On the defensive side of the ball, Canes pretty much shut down the Duke offense. Other than a late fourth quarter when Duke tacked on during garbage time, the Blue Devils couldn’t get much done.

Meanwhile Kaaya had his way, connecting with Stacey Coley and Njoku again, going 22-35 396 yards and 4 TDs. His performance placed Kaaya as the all time leading passer in Miami’s history, surpassing the great Ken Dorsey.

So there are a few questions remaining. The Canes end the regular season 8-4 on a four game win streak. We have to find out which bowl game they will go to. It should end being a decent one, considering how they finished the season. Some other questions, which will start swirling will be whether Brad Kaaya comes back and now if David NJoku, who’s a red shirt sophomore comes back. But we have plenty of time to discuss that. Right now Canes fans are happy. The program looks like it’s moving in the right direction. They have a lot of youth on the defensive side of the ball. They showed tremendous resolve and focus this season, and things are certainly looking up.

Born in the Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C., Ari Russell watched the rise of the 1980’s Miami Hurricanes and knew that he had to be part of the “U” someday. After graduating from Coral Gables, Ari rose through the ranks of the former XM Satellite Radio and then Sirius/XM as college football executive producer. He later spent 2 seasons as the publisher of the website “Beyond U Sports” focusing on major college football/basketball. Ari brings a great perspective on everything Miami, including the Dolphins to F.F.I.

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Miami Hurricanes

LSU pummels Miami in impressive opener

Florida Football Insiders

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t let the final score fool you. This was a one-sided Affair at AT&T stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday night. LSU handled, even manhandled, the Miami Hurricanes in a 33-17 victory.

For the Canes, they were trying to erase the bad taste in their mouth at the end of last season, where they fell apart after being ranked number 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings late in the year. They lost their final three games, including a blowout defeat in the ACC Championship Game to Clemson and losing in a home game like Orange Bowl to Wisconsin.

This debut on national TV Sunday night is not going to make any of the detractors of Mark Richt and his team over last year’s finish be any less vocal.

After an exchange of field goals, LSU got rolling in a big way when running back Nick Brossette broke off a 50-yard touchdown run for a 10-3 lead. After LSU marched down the field, again, early on in the second quarter, Brossette set scored again, from a yard out, to push the lead to 14 points. Brossette finished with a career high 125 yards rushing.

Then something all too familiar at the end of last season happened, again, when senior quarterback Malik Rosier’s pass was deflected to the Tigers Jacob Phillips. He was “Johnny on the spot” to grab it and raced 45 yards for the pick six touchdown (shown above) and break the game wide open at 27-3.

LSU’s defense repeatedly harassed and sacked Rosier, and had the only two turnovers of the game. The lead was 33-3 headed to the fourth quarter.

Yes, Miami was able to get two touchdowns from Rosier in the fourth quarter that dressed up the final score, but in the end this was a decisive loss. A loss that will have many already doubting whether Miami is a legit ACC contender saying “told you so.”

Meanwhile, LSU punctuated yet another big opening weekend again for the SEC.

Top-ranked Alabama demolished Louisville in Orlando, their rival Auburn when a hard-fought game with Washington in Atlanta, and Ole Miss handled Big 12 Texas Tech in Houston. The only SEC team that did not fare well in a power conference match-up was Tennessee, which was winless in the conference a year ago, and was manhandled by West Virginia in Charlotte.

LSU needed a a good effort against a worthy named opponent on a neutral field and they got it Sunday night.

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Miami Hurricanes

Miami gets set for huge opening battle with LSU

Florida Football Insiders

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Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It doesn’t get much bigger for a regular season opener than a stand-alone national television game against a really good opponent, and that’s what Miami has Sunday night against LSU.

The Hurricanes, who are preseason #8 in the rankings will take on the always formidable Tigers who are ranked preseason #25 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.

And both programs know this is a meaningful game out of conference that will have relevance down the road if they both want consideration for the College Football Playoff rankings. Miami had risen to as high as #3 in the CFP standings before faltering last year.

The Canes brings back quarterback Malik Rosier after a tough end to his 2018. Rozier played brilliantly earlier in the year, especially in a couple of comeback wins against Florida State and Virginia. However, his play tapered off badly in losses to Pitt, Clemson and Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl.

As an example of that, Rosier had 23 TDs and only 11 INTs in his first ten games last season. Then, starting with the disastrous loss to Pitt, Rosier’s completion percentage dropped by 10% and he threw only three TDs and three INTS over the last three games.

Still, despite having a couple of other options, coach Mark Richt will go with Rosier to start this game. Rick, who benefited from the 10-0 Miami start last year, has also faced some criticism because of the fade at the end of the season that resulted in a 10-3 record.

LSU will have a new quarterback when highly-touted Joe Burrow, a transfer from Ohio State, will take the helm in this game. The Tigers will also have to replace outstanding running back Derrius Guice, who left early for the NFL.

The Canes boast one of the best linebackers in college football in Shaq Quarterman. Quarterman had a staggering 164 total tackles last season, 17 for losses and six sacks. He has started all 24 games in the last two seasons and is a first team All ACC  preseason selection.

Expect lots of physical play, especially from the linebackers and secondaries on both teams in this one.

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Miami Hurricanes

Canes top Florida teams in intial AP Preseason Poll

Florida Football Insiders

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a season that restored hope and optimism in Miami, the Hurricanes have high hopes for 2018. And with the new AP Preseason Poll out for the first time Monday afternoon, others obviously do, too.

The Canes were ranked #8 by the Associated Press voters after not having been ranked in the preseason poll last year.

To no one’s surprise, Alabama is again the top choice preseason to win it all getting 42 first place votes. It’s the fifth time, including last year, that Saban’s Alabama team has been preseason #1. Also, not surprising in recent years, Clemson is #2 and got 18 of the votes for the top spot. Georgia, Wisconsin and Ohio State round out the AP Top five.

Back to Miami, they were 10-0 a year ago and ranked #3 by the College Football Playoff committee after their back to wins over nationally ranked Virginia Tech and Notre Dame at home. Unfortunately, it all fell apart quickly, as the Hurricanes were stunned on the Friday after Thanksgiving by a Pitt team with a losing record. Then, they were blown out by Clemson in the ACC title game and Wisconsin knocked them off in the Orange Bowl for a disappointing 10-3 finish.

The biggest ongoing question for the Canes is whether last year’s QB, Malik Rosier, will hang on to his starting job, and for how long? Coach Mark Richt has that and some losses of key players on defense to contend with for this upcoming season.

The AP voters gave respect to first year coach Willie Taggart and FSU putting them in the initial poll at #19. The Noles hope to welcome back 2016 starter at QB Deondre Francois and do return one of the best young running backs in the country in Cam Akers.

UCF, which had a magical unbeaten 13-0 season that they took a little too far, is in the AP Poll with a #21 ranking. It’s the first time they’ve ever been ranked in the AP Preseason Poll.

The Knights had coach Scott Frost depart for his alma matter, Nebraska, and now former Missouri offensive coordinator and Oklahoma QB Josh Heupel is set to lead them this season.

The biggest key for the Knights, Heupel, and fans is that quarterback exciting dual threat quarterback McKenzie Milton returns for his junior season. The former AAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2017 is also an early favorite for Heisman consideration.

Not surprisingly, the AP voters left out Florida, and USF out of their preseason top 25. The Gators come off a losing season, and while USF won 10 games and a bowl game again last year in coach Charlie Strong’s first season, they lost star QB Quinton Flowers to graduation.

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