Tano: I predict a score of 28-10 in favor of the 'Canes. I actually made this prediction before I was made aware of the point spread, which is apparently 18 points. That's not why I picked it though. I think that the offense will have its success, but there are so many unknowns that I'm hesitatnt to call it a blowout win like many have. How will Freeman play and how will the chemistry be between he and the receivers? How will the offensive line handle the rotation that Coach Stoutland has planned during game conditions? Will Graig Cooper and Derron Thomas do an efficient job of spelling Javarris James so that he isn't tired by the 4th quarter? We'll get the answers to those questions for the most part tommorow. 28 points would be a significant improvement over last season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the biggest concern has to be the cornerbacks versus Marshall's big receivers. Other then that potential mismatch, I don't see any reason why Miami shouldn't dominate them. I just hope that they remain injury free. The last thing we need is another injury at cornerback or linebacker (knock on wood). Another possible concern is at defensive tackle. There's no doubt that Dwayne Hendricks earned his starting spot, but with him alongside Teraz McCray, the middle of our defense will potentially be significantly undersized. I hope Antonio Dixon is ready to ball, because Marshall may try to exploit the middle of our defense (with two undersized linemen and a middle linebacker who is inexperienced at that position. Overall though, I think the defense, as usual, will come to play and hold them to 10 points.
Cole: I'll go with 35-13, in favor of the U. I think you will see a heavy, heavy dose of the running game on Saturday afternoon. Testing that Marshall defense that goes into the game without their premier pass rusher, defensive end, Albert McClellan – who is actually a solid all around defensive end at the collegiate level – and is outmatched physically is a must for this 'Canes team. Miami will win, even with a D-minus performance because Marshall isn't exactly an opponent that can capitalize on mistakes. The running game alone can generate 3 to 4 touchdowns if given the bulk of offensive load to shoulder. The Hurricane defense is one of the nation's best and can really do a thing or two against a Marshall offense that stars Bernie Morris, who has struggled to win over the Marshall faithful over the last two seasons with poor play.
Overall, I feel this game is one that might stay close over the first quarter, but after that, I expect an explosion from the Hurricanes behind the running game.
Bakas: You never know what's going to happen in a season opener. It's the game that you know the least amount of both teams and it's one that probably brings more surprises than any other. It's hard enough trying to figure out how good this Miami team will be, let alone how good the Canes opponent on Saturday will be.
The offense lost its best player from last season in running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Chubb Small, a former Florida prep star, takes over with limited experience. Even with Bradshaw last season, the offense struggled to score points against quality defenses (10 against West Virginia, 7 against Kansas State, and 7 against Tennessee). With a defense like UM has this season, even with some of the injuries, I can't imagine Marshall scoring too much more than that on offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Herd ranked 101th in total defense a year ago. One of their only bright spots was the outstanding play of defensive end Albert McClellan, who happened to play his high school ball in Polk County (Florida) as well. McClellan suffered a torn ACL in the spring and when that happened, Marshall lost its best defensive player by far. The top two tacklers are gone from a year ago so things might be a little difficult early on for the Herd's young defense. In those same three games mentioned earlier, Marshall's defense allowed 33 points per game. While UM's offense may have more question marks than those teams had on their offenses last season, Marshall is minus its 3 best defensive players from a season ago.
I think you'll see UM rotate in a lot of players, including a lot of freshmen. There will be typical first game mistakes but I think the talent level is big enough for the Canes to cruise to a comfortable victory. I'll go with Miami 34, Marshall 10.
Stay tuned to CanesTime.com later today for post-game coverage and analysis on the game.