Hurricanes head to Toledo to take the Rockets from the MAC
After losing their season opener to the LSU Tigers on Sept. 2, the Miami Hurricanes got their first win of year, 77-0 over FCS opponent Savannah State. This week, they will go on the road to play a high-powered Toledo Rockets team.
Although Toledo didn't play in Week 2, the Rockets were impressive in their 66-3 opening win against FCS foe VMI on Sept.1.
In last season's meeting, the Rockets led the Hurricanes 16-10 at halftime before losing 52-30. With two weeks to prepare, the Rockets will hope to finish the job this time around.
Miami at Toledo
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 15 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Miami -10.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Miami's quarterback situation
Against Savannah State, Malik Rosier against got the start and completed 8-of-12 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns, ending a stretch of four consecutive games of sub-50 completion percentage. Although Rosier had a decent outing, N'Kosi Perry played well in relief, throwing three touchdowns and one interception.
During his press conference this week, head coach Mark Richt didn't exactly sound committed to Rosier as his starting quarterback long term. "The bottom line is we’re going to play who we think gives us the best chance of winning," Richt said. "That’s what we’re doing, bottom line. As long as he is that, he’ll start. If we think someone else gives us a better chance to win, we’ll start that guy.”
While Rosier will start this week, if the Hurricanes get off to a slow start, don't be surprised to see Perry against the Rockets.
2. Toledo's two-headed quarterback attack
With Logan Woodside now in the NFL, Toledo used two quarterbacks against VMI in its opener. Mitch Guadagni and Eli Peters combined to go 19-of-29 for 338 yards in the season-opening win. The two completed passes to 11 different Rocket receivers; Desmond Phillips led the way with four catches.
In last year's matchup against the Hurricanes, Woodside was able to torch the Hurricanes secondary. If Toledo is to have a chance for the upset, the passing game will once again need to be a major factor.
3. Hurricanes defensive line
Miami had four sacks in its win against Toledo last year. The Canes will need their front four to once again be active to help slow down the Rockets passing attack. In Miami's loss to LSU, Gerald Willis was terrific as he recorded eight tackles and a sack. The Canes need him and Joe Jackson to put similar pressure on Guadagni and Peters on Saturday, making the secondary's job that much easier.
Saturday will be the Hurricanes' first actual road game of the year after playing LSU in a neutral setting and playing Savannah State at Hard Rock Stadium. The good news is that the Hurricanes have typically performed well on the road during Richt's tenure. The bad news is that the Rockets are going to give the Hurricanes defense all it can handle.
Toledo has a ton of playmakers offensively, and if Miami can't get pressure on the quarterbacks, that is going to make for a long afternoon. However, the Hurricanes have a talented secondary that should be able to force mistakes.
While Toledo will make Saturday's game interesting, the Hurricanes' depth and talent should be the difference in the game.
Prediction: Miami 38, Toledo 24
— 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, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.