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Can Miami keep a close game against Alabama?

On paper Miami has what it takes to pull off the upset vs the Tide

NCAA Football: Cheez-It Bowl-Oklahoma State vs Miami Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 of college football will feature the Miami Hurricanes vs Alabama Crimson Tide in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta, GA. With all eyes on the Canes, do they have what it takes to win the most anticipated game in the return of football?

NCAA Football: Florida at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

In recent history, Miami has not had their way against SEC opponents.

Last 5 games vs the SEC

(2019) at #8 Florida: L 24-20

(2018) vs #25 LSU: L 17-33

(2014): vs South Carolina: L 21-24

(2013): vs #12 Florida: W 21-16

(2008): at #5 Florida: L 3-26

The good news: Miami played a close game against 8th ranked Florida with an inexperienced team and a freshman quarterback in Jarren Williams.

The bad news: Miami is going up against Nick Saban. A contest that very rarely ends up well.

However, on paper Miami COULD potentially cause trouble for the Tide. Some interesting/notable statistics for Miami:

Miami is returning 10/11 offensive starters (Brevin Jordan)

Miami is returning 9/11 defensive starters (Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche)

Veteran leadership returning (D’Eriq King, Bubba Bolden, Mike Harley, Cam Harris, Zach McCloud)

Big transfer portal pickups (Tyrique Stevenson, Charleston Rambo, Deandre Johnson)

Talented incoming freshman class (5-Star #1 Safety James Williams, 5-Star #4 DT Leonard Taylor)

Beefed up O-line (Zion Nelson, Jarrid Williams, Navaughn Donaldson, DJ Scaife)

Miami NEEDS to get the run game going if they put up a fight. Cam Harris looks like he will be the starter in 2021, but bringing in a diamond package to get Don Chaney and Jaylan Knighton on the field at the same time could kill Bama’s defense. If the Hurricanes get the run game going, the D’Eriq King passing attack will open up. The biggest reason Miami’s offense was shut down vs Clemson was the inability to run the ball. In order for a Canes victory King and the offense must be two-dimensional.

NCAA Football: Miami at Duke Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama might be the toughest teams to play in a week 1 game with no game footage. The only thing going against Nick Saban’s squad is experience. On offense alone, The Tide lost Mac Jones, Jaylen Waddle, Devanta Smith, and Najee Harris to the draft (all 1st rounders). Sophomore QB Bryce Young will get his first start in his young college career against Miami. There is no doubt Young will be a stud, being the #1 high school QB in 2020, but will he be prone to mistakes early is the question. Miami’s biggest threat is Bama running back Brian Robinson and receiver John Metchie who got playing time last year and now will be full time starters.

Should the college football world expect Miami to be back? No, but the odds show Miami is much more capable of pulling off a close game, or even an upset, than we think.