The Miami Hurricanes will begin their 90th football season Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats. This will be the third time Bethune-Cookman and Miami have faced each other. In 2012, Miami defeated Bethune-Cookman 38-10 behind four Duke Johnson touchdowns.
Bethune-Cookman finished the 2014 season with a 9-3 record and a 6-2 conference (MEAC) mark. Miami ended last season with a 6-7 record (3-5 ACC), including a 24-21 loss to South Carolina in the Independence Bowl.
The biggest news from Miami prior to Week 1 is running back Gus Edwards will miss the entire 2015 season with an undisclosed foot injury. It was widely speculated that Edwards was going to be the Hurricanes' starting running back prior to his injury.
Bethune-Cookman at Miami
Kickoff: 6 p.m. EST
TV Channel: ESPN3
Three Things to Watch
1. How will Brad Kaaya perform?
During the offseason, Kaaya received a lot of preseason attention from the media. He was named to the Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year), the Manning Award (top quarterback) and the Davey O’Brien National Award watch list. Last season for the Canes, Kaaya threw for 3,198 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The sophomore will look to get off to a great start against a Bethune-Cookman defense that was among the best in FCS in 2014. With all the athletes Miami has on offense, Kaaya could have a 300-yard performance in Week 1.
2. Miami defense
In 2014, the Hurricanes finished the season ranked No. 14 nationally in total defense. The stats say Miami had an excellent defense, but that statistic is misleading. The Hurricanes finished 61st in the country in sacks and 97th in tackles. In three of Miami’s losses last season, the defense gave up more than 200 yards rushing to Nebraska, Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. With only five returning starters on defense, the Hurricanes will look to began on the right foot against the Wildcats.
3. Quentin Williams
Yes, Bethune-Cookman is an FCS school but these Wildcats have some talent on offense. They are led by quarterback Quentin Williams, who threw for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He also rushed for 283 yards and four touchdowns. Williams, was Florida’s Mr. Football in 2010 while starting at Tampa's Jefferson High School, but he wasn’t highly recruited, mainly because of his 5-foot-11, 209-pound frame. He is a player the Hurricanes certainly have to be aware of.
Miami will win the game, but the question is by how much. The Canes just have too much talent at the skill positions for the Wildcats to compete. Not only should Kaaya have a great game against the Bethune-Cookman defense, but so should the Miami running backs. Look for Joseph Yearby and true freshman Mark Walton to receive a lot of carries and maybe record a few touchdowns on Saturday night.
Prediction: Miami 54, Bethune-Cookman 14.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.