This game isn’t as easy as it appears at first glance for Miami. UAB already has a game under its belt in addition to being one of the favorites in C-USA because it returns the majority of its squad from 2019.
While UAB opened this season with big expectations, this is still a team who lost to any relevant competition last year by large margins, namely 30-7 to Tennessee and 49-6 to Florida Atlantic.
UAB Gave Up 35 Points to Central Arkansas
Even in this year’s opener, UAB allowed 35 points to Central Arkansas. Miami may have offensive questions, but if Central Arkansas can score 35 points against this defense, there’s no reason an ACC team can’t surpass that.
That’s mostly because the Hurricanes have a massive upgrade at quarterback in Houston transfer D’Eriq King. He’s expected to take the offense to new heights after being one of the worst in the conference last season.
The talent around him is fairly young like running back Cam’Ron Harris and receivers Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins, but the line returns the majority of its starters. Throw in the versatility of King and this group should be fine in this opening matchup.
Miami Defense Should Remain Stout
To cover, Miami’s defense will have to continue to be one of the best after allowing 20.8 points per game last year. They lose a lot of talent, but also bring in a few transfers and have plenty of depth at every position.
The ‘Canes managed six wins last year because of their defense and now with a better offense, there won’t be as much pressure on the defense to perform for head coach Manny Diaz.
That said, this opening matchup won’t be easy. While UAB struggled against better teams last year, that doesn’t take away from them returning 10 of 11 offensive starters including quarterback Tyler Johnston.
Then again, he split time with freshman Bryson Lucero in the opener and the two averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt. Sure, the ground game went for 233 yards en route to 45 points, but that’s not going to work against Miami.
If the Blazers want to cover this matchup, they’ll need consistent play from both the quarterbacks and ground game. Otherwise, this could be another performance in which UAB fails to surpass 10 points against an above-average defense.
UAB could finish as one of the better teams in C-USA, but it still has an issue against top competition. Combine D’Eriq King with a stout defense and you have a recipe for a big Miami win in the opener, assuming King acclimates to his new team in his first official game.
Using data from last season, our model suggests that UAB can stay within this number as it likes Miami by 11. That prediction from the model could have some validity as UAB returns so many starters while the Canes have some new faces.
More than likely, the talent on the Miami side takes over as the game moves along and likely starts to dominate in the 2nd half as the offense figures things out.
But UAB having a game under their belts could very well give them an edge early. Specifically in the 1st quarter and 1st half.
So, we’ll give UAB a look plus the points in the 1st quarter and 1st half (no lines posted as of this writing). But we’ll side with the Canes -14 or better for the game as we think the Miami offense could be explosive this year, once they get rolling.