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Miami will face a different level of competition on Saturday Night

After a 70-3 rout of FAMU during Mark Richt’s first game as head coach, Miami should not take FAU lightly

Miami Hurricane Football Game Images, Week Two: Miami @ FAU

Mark Richt displayed a big smile on his face during the postgame press conference Saturday, and with Miami slamming Florida A&M 70-3 in the season opener, how could he not be excited?

It was utter domination by each unit on Miami’s roster, and it was a win that will extend the euphoria surrounding Coral Gables at least one more week.

Miami’s freshmen performed up to par, and despite a season-ending injury to backup linebacker Jamie Gordinier, ‘Canes fans believe in the young talent Richt is developing.

But with Miami’s worst statistical opponent now in the rear-view mirror, fans should temper their expectations for this Saturday’s game against in-state foe Florida Atlantic University.

The Owls are major underdogs entering this matchup, 23 point underdogs to be exact, and many fans are dismissing any chance of a Miami defeat due to FAU’s non-power 5 conference reputation. Nearly 80 spots separate Miami and FAU’s 2016 recruiting class rankings, and fans believe it should be another ‘Canes rout.

In reality; however, the Hurricanes should expect another level of talent this weekend than they faced last week. The Owls are an FBS team located in Conference USA, and FAU infamously took the Florida Gators into overtime last season.

Miami fans shouldn’t exactly place the Hurricanes on upset alert, but the general point of the matter is that FAU will provide a different challenge than FAMU provided last week.

The Owls put forth a noteworthy defensive line, with senior defensive end Trey Hendrickson leading the way for a unit that will provide Miami’s offensive line with a challenge. Florida Atlantic’s offensive line also boasts an experienced group, with the Owls returning four starters up front.

FAU’s talent is nothing compared to what the ‘Canes will face later on in the year, but going into week 2, Miami is focused on improving themselves as a team.

“Good football teams usually make a big jump from week 1 to week 2,” Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz said post-game on Saturday. “We understand that our opponent next week will be a tougher out than this opponent was. It’s imperative, because we are going to get patted on the back in the next 24 hours, that we come back with the mentality that we have got to improve off of this performance next week.”

The ‘Canes schedule works to their advantage due to the fact that each game progressively increases in difficulty, giving young players a chance to develop before Miami’s marquee matchups.

The ‘Canes are fully expected to throttle FAU at home on Saturday, and it is difficult to see why they shouldn’t. Florida Atlantic won three games last season, and the Owls only beat their FCS week 1 opponent by 8 points.

Florida Atlantic should be another tune up game for the ‘Canes, so by no means am I putting Miami on upset alert Saturday.

But going into Mark Richt’s second game as head coach, fans must realize that a different challenge will present itself on Saturday night.