Everything You Need to Know About the Hurricanes Season Opener Against Alabama

After Saturday's game, we'll know if the 'Canes are back.
After Saturday's game, we'll know if the 'Canes are back. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images
The U is back!

Well, not back back. For now, they're just back on the football field, where the 14th-ranked University of Miami Hurricanes face the top-ranked University of Alabama Crimson Tide in both teams' 2021 season opener this Saturday.

But by Sunday we will know if the 'Canes are back — as in back to dominating the college football world.

To reacquaint college football fans at the start of the season, we thought it would make sense to provide a handy-dandy primer ahead of the biggest game that the 'Canes have played in years.

Here is everything you need to know about the University of Miami season opener.

Who, What, When, and Where

No.14 Miami Hurricanes versus no.1 Alabama Crimson Tide

Date: Saturday, September 4
Time: 3:30 p.m. EDT
Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Network: ABC

What Does Vegas Have to Say About Miami vs. Alabama?

Vegas doesn't consider Miami having too much of a chance against the Crimson Tide. As of early this week, Miami was anywhere from a 17.5- to 19-point underdog.

In most places, 61.5 is the over/under for combined points scored during the game. Miami is +650 to win outright. (For the uninitiated, that means that you'll win a whopping $650 if you place a $100 wager on a Miami win.)

Alabama Football Diss Track

In case you missed it, New Times caught up with a Hurricanes fan who published this glorious music video on YouTube last week. Please watch it in its entirety so you can celebrate Miami swagger at its cringiest. Consider it homework.

The Quarterback Advantage

One of the few places on the field where Miami is expected to have an advantage over Alabama just so happens to be the most important one: quarterback. 'Bama is starting Bryce Young, who has little college football experience. Meanwhile, Miami trots out D'Eriq King, who is one of the most experienced QBs in college football — he's older than Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, and a Heisman Trophy candidate. Whether King's teammates play well enough for this advantage to reveal itself is another story.

How Miami Can Pull Off the Upset

There is no preseason in college football. So if there was ever a time to play Alabama, Miami could very well be playing them at their worst: the first week of a season when the no. 1 team is replacing offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, quarterback Mac Jones, running back Najee Harris, wideouts DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, and three offensive linemen.

Better now during all the disarray than later, right? Certainly seems that way.

Why Miami Is in Big, Big Trouble

Pick a reason, really. There are many to choose from if we're being honest: Alabama is stacked with the best high-school recruits from Seattle to New York to Miami and even overseas. They choose who they want, and not the other way around, like most schools.

The biggest reason Alabama is favored by almost three touchdowns? Miami's defense. Especially the linebackers. Miami is recovering from losing a few vital playmakers on defense. Like Alabama's offense, they'll be learning on the fly on Saturday, too.

The Manny Diaz Moment

Miami versus Alabama is a big game, but for Manny Diaz, it's a career-defining moment. A win over Nick Saban and Alabama will likely catapult Diaz toward a longer career in Miami. A loss and another three-loss season like last year's could mean he's on his way out of town sooner rather than later.

Saturday is the fork in the road for Miami's coach. Win or lose, Hurricanes fans will have a better idea of what needs to be done after this season. A loss would drop Diaz to 14-11 as 'Canes head coach, which is not exactly acceptable.

Kirk Herbstreit's Prediction

ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit recently spoke about the Miami-Alabama game, predicting "Miami can hang around" and "be competitive." But ultimately, he thinks 'Bama will win. 

This is what Herbstreit had to say: "New quarterback in Bryce Young, you got new running backs, a lot of new receivers," Herbstreit said of Alabama. "'Bama is going to be relying early on old-school 'Bama —defense and playing smart on offense. I think because of that, I don't see a blowout. I think [quarterback] D'Eriq King and Miami can hang around, and I think they can be competitive. I think 'Bama wins the game, but I think the 'Canes can compete."

What if Miami Actually Wins?

If Miami beats a No. 1 Alabama team to start the season, they'll be a top-five team the next time they take the field against Appalachian State. As the standings sit today, they would only face one more ranked team the rest of the way (no. 10 North Carolina on October 16). Outside of a matchup with FSU in Tallahassee on November 13, there is no reason Miami couldn't run the table and finish the season as one of the top two teams in college football.

Big if. Huge if. This is all predicated on Miami being the sort of team that beats Alabama, then doesn't slip up and lose to Duke. But a win this weekend means a tilted poker table with the chips easily falling into their laps the rest of the season. 
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi