Coming fresh off a 10-3 season and with a top 8 recruiting class signed, the future for the Miami Hurricanes is bright. As the Canes look to continue the upward progression of the program with Mark Richt at the helm, early rankings have the Canes poised for a big 2018 season.
The 'Way Too Early Top 25' lists are in and one thing is clear...— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) January 30, 2018
Miami is a consensus top-10 team heading into the 2018 season. pic.twitter.com/s6jF84A45V
The latest ranking to hold Miami in high esteem for the 2018 season are the S&P+ Rankings, which have the Canes come in 13th in the country, and 2nd in the ACC. The only ACC team in front of the Canes in these rankings is, understandably, the Clemson Tigers.
Our resident SBNation football analytics guru Bill Connelly (a Missouri fan, but we won’t hold that against him) has built the statistical model for the S&P+ and updates it weekly throughout the season. This version of the S&P+ is based on projection for the upcoming year. For comparison, Miami finished 19th in S&P+ last season.
On top of this lofty rating heading into 2018, Miami got high marks in other areas, too. The Canes rank 8th in 2-year Recruiting Impact (and 17th in 5-year Recruiting Impact, but that’s sure to go up as some of Al Golden’s lower rated classes come off the board for this computation). Miami is also 48th in Returning Production, and 21st in weighted 5-year ranking.
That’s a lot to digest, I’m sure, but Bill C offered these words to help you make sense of all the rankings and ratings and numbers I’ve just listed:
The preseason S&P+ projections are a simple mix of three factors: recent history, returning production, and recruiting. To come up with 130-team projections, I create projected ratings based on each factor. Here’s how the process works:
Recruiting is easy. I create a rating based on these two-year recruiting rankings. The recruiting-based projection makes up about a quarter of the overall S&P+ projection.
For returning production, I apply projected changes (based on each team’s returning offensive and defensive production, which are on different scales) to last year’s S&P+ averages. The projection based on returning production accounts for a little more than 50 percent.
For recent history, I get a little weird. I found last year that the previous year’s S&P+ ratings — which make up the starting point for the returning production figures — were carrying a little too much weight. So what you see below is a projection based solely off of seasons two to five years ago. Recent history now carries less weight in the overall formulas, under 20 percent.
As I previously said, Miami ranks 2nd in the ACC and 1st in the Coastal Division. This makes sense, as Miami has had the best roster in the Coastal for years and are (finally) defending ACC Coastal Division Champions.
The only ACC team with a higher S&P+ Rating than Miami are the 3-time defending ACC Champion Clemson Tigers. They’re one of the best and most loaded teams in the country, so that isn’t a surprise. Here are the ACC S&P+ projections:
13. Miami (FL)
18. Florida State
21. Virginia Tech
34. Wake Forest
37. N.C. State
48. Boston College
51. North Carolina
53. Georgia Tech
On Averages, the ACC is elite as a whole. The only conference with a higher average than the ACC is, of course, the SEC. Even still, the top half of the ACC — Clemson, Miami, Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Louisville — could compete with the top 5 in any conference.
Looking ahead to 2018, Miami’s opponents are good, the Canes hold the advantage across the board on S&P+ projection. Here’s the full schedule with the S&P+ projection for each team Miami will face this upcoming season:
- Neutral site vs LSU Tigers (16)
- vs Savannah State Tigers (No Ranking for FCS teams)
- at Toledo Rockets (49)
- vs FIU Panthers (120)
- vs North Carolina Tar Heels (51)
- vs Florida State Seminoles (18)
- at Virginia Cavaliers (73)
- at Boston College Eagles (48)
- vs Duke Blue Devils(40)
- at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (53)
- at Virginia Tech Hokies (21)
- vs Pittsburgh Panthers (45)
From the moment Mark Richt was hired as head coach, Canes fans and a variety of journalists and commentators have been pointing to the 2018 season as one in which Miami could challenge for the College Football Playoff. The Canes got close a year ago before stumbling down the stretch. In 2018, the ceiling for the season could be determined in the first half of the year, if not the opening week.
The marquee games are obvious: Season opener vs LSU in Arlington, TX, October 6th vs rival Florida State, and November 17 at Virginia Tech. While Miami has the S&P+ projection advantage heading into the season, it’s not so big a gap that we can take those game s for granted. And, considering the season-crushing implosion against a terrible Pitt team last year, Miami isn’t really in the position to overlook any opponent, regardless of the mismatch on paper.
In the end, these 2018 projections put Miami in the place many expected them to be: the clear-cut ACC Coastal Division favorites, with a schedule to potentially push for a berth in the College Football Playoff.
Now, it’s time to get to work.