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Simulating the 2018 Season: Game One

Miami opens up against LSU – can they put up video game-esque numbers?

Virginia Tech v Miami Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

We might be more than a month out from the first Miami football game of 2018, but that doesn’t mean we can’t figure out how this upcoming season will play out. NCAA Football may have stopped producing games following 2013, but that hasn’t stopped the hard-working folks at Operation Sports, who have faithfully created a 2018 roster that can still be downloaded and played today. Over the next few weeks, you’ll be getting a preview of the 2018 season through this long-surviving game. Here are some ground rules so you know what to expect.

· Games will be simmed using 5 minute quarters and without any user interaction.

· Games will be simmed in dynasty mode. ACC games can’t be changed so there will be some differences (Clemson instead of Toledo, games in order of the 2013 season).

· Not every roster is perfect with fully-updated players. Miami is up to date but some ACC teams may have a few left over seniors (all drafted players have been removed).

To start off, here is what your 2018 Miami Hurricanes look like courtesy of Operation Sports.

Not a bad squad overall, especially on the defensive side. The only projected starter that will be under 80 overall is whoever grabs that DT spot next to Gerald Willis – for the sake of the sim we’ll say Pat Bethel takes it. On offense, there are plenty of weapons for a generously rated Malik Rosier to get the ball too. But just like for the real Canes, the video game version has some question marks along the offensive line.

And here is the “2018” schedule.

Miami’s 2018 Sim Schedule

Games Opponents
Games Opponents
Game 1 Vs LSU
Game 2 Vs FCS Southeast
Game 3 At Clemson
Game 4 Vs FIU
Game 5 Vs GT
Game 6 Vs UNC
Game 7 Vs BC
Game 8 Vs FSU
Game 9 At VT
Game 10 At Duke
Game 11 Vs UVA
Game 12 At Pitt

Now it’s time for some football.

Miami (91 overall) will square off with LSU (86 overall) in Hard Rock Stadium (dynasty doesn’t allow for neutral sites picked by the user) for each team’s first game of the season. Both teams are near-evenly matched on defense though Miami has a definitive edge on offense. The best players for LSU include LB Devin White (94), CB Greedy Williams (93) and WR Jonathan Giles (87). The ball is kicked off and The U’s offense gets to take the field first.

Miami wastes little time, with Travis Homer scooting 70 yards into the LSU endzone on his second carry of the game, giving Miami an early 7-0 lead. The Tigers respond quickly, a long, methodical drive with a balanced offensive attack that ends with RB Nick Brossette punching in a two-yard TD. After two drives, the game is tied 7-7.

The teams exchange punts for their next two drives apiece, before Miami breaks through. Given a short field thanks to a dynamic return by Deejay Dallas, Malik Rosier is able to find Homer on a screen pass, the runningback weaving through the gold and purple defense on his way to a 15-yard touchdown reception. The Hurricanes charge back in front, 14-7.

With the ball back in their hands, LSU misses a critical field goal to pull closer but are able to redeem themselves when a Zach Feagles punt is blocked, giving the Tigers the football at the Canes’ 15-yard line. One play is all QB Joe Burrow needs, throwing a perfect strike to his receiver to even this opener back up at 14-14.

Just over two minutes remain on the clock, more than enough time for Rosier to take the offense back down the field, carving up the LSU defense with strikes to Ahmmon Richards and Brevin Jordan, before another endzone-destined pass lands in Homer’s hands and Miami goes up 21-14 entering the half.

Miami v Pittsburgh
Video game Travis Homer was a bad man against LSU’s hapless defense.
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Bayou Kitties weren’t going away that easy, taking advantage of a sluggish third quarter by the Miami offense. Another lengthy LSU drive, featuring the tough running of Brossette and accurate third down passing of Burrow, leads to a 36-yard field goal, trimming the deficit to just 21-17 for LSU. As the 3rd quarter wanes, the Tiger’s once again hold possession and are again off on a long, run-focused drive. Four yards here, five yards there, Brossette and the LSU o-line are doing a great job at neutralizing the aggressive Miami run defense, picking up whatever yardage is available. Just as the fourth quarter begins, LSU takes their first lead, 24-21.

Miami doesn’t panic, even after a long drive ends with a heart-breaking Rosier interception. After LSU gains two first downs on three plays following the change of possession, the Miami defense holds fast, forcing a punt and giving their offense the ball back with 1:36 remaining. The Cardiac Canes are back.

Rosier finds Mike Harley for five yards and then Jeff Thomas for 11, kick starting the drive. On a 3rd and 10, Dallas picks up seven yards to give Miami a manageable but ultimately game-deciding fourth down. The Hurricanes’ signal caller doesn’t miss a beat, hitting Homer for 12 yards with under a minute left. Two more incomplete passes follow but a roughing the passer penalty gives Miami an automatic first down and the ball just eight yards from the endzone. Lawrence Cager drops an easy TD but it’s no big deal, as Rosier delivers a strike to Jeff Thomas with 30 seconds left. 28-24 Canes. 1-0 on the season.

Important Stats

Rosier finished 22-of-37 for 307 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. In retrospect, digital Mark Richt should’ve given Travis Homer more carries, as he was able to gash the LSU defense for 122 yards and one TD on 12 carries, not to mention eight receptions for 72 yards and two more trips to the endzone. Thomas and Richards combined for 76 yards and a touchdown. Joe Jackson was a monster on the defensive side of the ball, accumulating five TFLs.

Next Week

The dramatics go out the window as Miami gets to play “FCS Southeast,” NCAA 14’s equivalent of Savannah State.