Andrew: Miami 27, Texas A&M 24
The Miami Hurricanes leave Hard Rock Stadium with revenge for last season’s loss and arguably the biggest win of the Mario Cristobal era. Miami will look to control the game with their rushing attack and lean heavily on their offensive line. The Canes rushed for 175 yards against Texas A&M last season and will look to replicate that ground performance. If the Canes can get the run game going, it will open up more opportunities for Tyler Van Dyke in the passing game.
On the other side of the ball, Miami will have to get enough pressure to disrupt Conner Weigman and the Aggies’ passing attack. The Texas A&M offensive line looked less than dominant in their opener against NMSU. If the Canes can get pressure on Weigman, it will go a long way in helping the Miami secondary contain a dangerous wide receiver trio of Evan Stewart, Noah Thomas, and Ainias Smith.
In last season’s 17-9 loss to the Aggies, Miami had 392 yards compared to just 264 yards for Texas A&M. A number of special teams errors and costly mistakes resulted in a disappointing loss for Miami. If Miami plays a clean game, they advance to 2-0 and set themselves up nicely heading into the rest of the season.
Geo: Miami 35, Texas A&M 20
A statement game for the Miami Hurricanes, Mario Cristobal and the football program are hungry and eager to put on display the improvements they’ve made as a team with over 40-plus roster additions since the end of a disappointing 2022 season where they went 5-7.
Last year when Miami made the trek to College Station, Texas, they won every category in that game but the scoreboard which read 17-9, when they failed to punch in the ball through the end zone with plenty of opportunities. This year’s Texas A&M team is different; Jimbo Fisher has stepped back from playcalling and brought in the renowned offensive mind of Bobby Petrino. Texas A&M has a new quarterback Miami will be facing on Saturday in former five-star Conner Weigman, who has the ability to not only push the ball downfield to receivers like Evan Stewart, Noah Thomas, and Ainais Smith but also the capability to escape the pocket from crashing pass rushers to extend plays. That may pose a challenge for Miami’s cornerbacks, who are all mostly relatively new to the football program via the high school ranks and transfer portal this offseason. On the other hand, Miami has the most talented safety duo in the country between Kamren Kinchens and James Williams to help with coverage over the top.
While Texas A&M may have improved on the surface in their passing game, their running game will take a hit after losing now Miami Dolphins running back De’Von Achane. Miami, on the other hand, will be entering this game with key additions in the backfield with Ajay Allen and Mark Fletcher Jr., even after rushing for 175 yards against the Aggies a year ago with a backfield that featured returnee Henry Parrish Jr. Miami’s offensive and defensive lines have both been bolstered and improved through the transfer portal via key additions in Matt Lee, Javion Cohen, and Branson Deen, along with impact freshmen Francis Mauigoa and Rueben Bain Jr., highlighting coach Cristobal’s emphasis on recruiting efforts to make the trenches the strength of the team and dominate the line of scrimmage.
Texas A&M, on the other hand, despite having a slew of former five and four-star prospects on both sides of the line, seemed to struggle to dominate an inferior opponent in New Mexico last week, and even the Hurricanes a year ago in College Station despite their victory. An improved offensive and defensive line will only benefit Miami entering this game.
Even Miami’s linebacking corps has been upgraded between impact transfers Francisco Mauigoa and K.J. Cloyd, along with returning sophomore Wesley Bissainthe, to combat any rushing attack from Texas A&M running back and Miami native Amari Daniels, along with freshman five-star prospect Rueben Owens. I expect new defensive coordinator Lance Guidry to prove his worth and showcase why he’s been so successful at his collegiate stops in his career.
So, what gives? Why am I picking Miami in this game? The Hurricanes have struggled in matchups like this for quite some time while trying to recapture former glory. Well, the team has bought in; players who were not 100% bought into the program were let go, and Mario Cristobal has a much different tune about his team this season compared to last season. He’s much more confident about his roster today than he was a year ago heading into College Station in 2022.
Not only does Cristobal know it’s a defining moment in his tenure as head coach at Miami for national perception and recruiting success, but his players do too. They have circled this game for a long time over the offseason. Not only is this game important for Cristobal, but it’s also important for quarterback Tyler Van Dyke. This is a game that can determine recapturing his NFL prospects and cementing his status as the leader of the team on offense. After speaking to close sources in his camp, the relationship between the quarterback and offensive coordinator is night and day from the man we won’t even mention by name who was removed from the program after a tumultuous 2022.
An offensive scheme that is tailored to Miami’s personnel now with coach Dawson at offensive coordinator, and a renewed confidence in the wide receivers room with Colbie Young, Jacolby George, and Xavier Restrepo, in combination with an offensive line that can keep a pocket clean for Van Dyke, this could be the game where people turn their heads and recognize that Van Dyke still is the same quarterback we saw in his record-breaking 2021 campaign. This could be a game where he recaptures his confidence and bravado too.
Miami pulls away from a tight contest in the fourth quarter, and Mario Cristobal lands his first signature win at the helm of the Miami Hurricanes football program.
Luke: Texas A&M 27, Miami 24
While I think that Miami’s offense, especially its passing attack, will fare much better against the Aggies than it did in their meeting last year, I have some questions about Miami’s revamped cornerback unit against a loaded group of Texas A&M receivers.
The Aggies have one of the best pass-catcher rooms in the country, led by returnees Evan Stewart, Noah Thomas, Moose Muhammad III, and Ainias Smith. Miami has talent at cornerback, but there are so many newcomers, and this will be a difficult challenge for them at such an early stage of the season.
I could see this game going either way, but I’m having a difficult time trusting Miami’s cornerbacks enough against a potent Aggies passing attack.
Rollo: Miami 31, Texas A&M 21
This is Mario Cristobal’s biggest game since he arrived in Miami. The implications of winning this game, in terms of momentum and recruiting prowess, are enormous.
He knows that, and it is why his 2023 class, plus two years of transfer portal additions, have allowed him to be in a great position to win this game.
The game will be won, as usual, at the line of scrimmage. Miami has the better offensive line with four NFL guys and Francis Mauigoa, a future top-10 pick. Miami’s offensive line will do just enough to protect Tyler Van Dyke.
The Canes also have the advantage on the defensive line with Deen and Taylor, whom I believe will apply plenty of pressure to Weigman and force early throws.
The one area where A&M has a clear advantage is in the WR room versus Miami’s cornerbacks, who are unproven as a unit. But I still feel confident because I believe Lance Guidry will find a way to scheme past that. I am expecting a Guidry masterclass and because of it, I have Miami winning 31-21.
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