The University of Miami football team entered the 2018 season with high expectations and a No. 8 preseason ranking to match the hype.
After a season-opening 33-17 loss to then-No. 25 LSU, however, the Hurricanes come to town on Saturday to face the University of Toledo without the luster of being just the third top-10 team ever to visit the Glass Bowl.
That doesn’t mean there will be any less buzz when “The U,” ranked No. 21 in the country, invades Toledo. A capacity crowd is expected, with UT saying only a limited number of tickets are still available.
“It’ll be wild,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. “We’ll get everything they’ve got. I’m sure they’ll have every single seat sold and they’ll be standing room only. Their fans are going to be ready for a great battle. They’ve been excited about this for a while. Let’s face it — they played a game, had an open date, so the fans had time to get ready for two weeks. The coaches had time to get ready for two weeks, and the whole off-season.”
Following their loss to LSU, the Hurricanes took out their frustrations on Savannah State with a 77-0 win Saturday. Coming out of the game, Miami now has questions as to who will be the starting quarterback at Toledo.
Senior QB Malik Rosier struggled against LSU, completing just 15-of-35 passes for 259 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Against Savannah State, Rosier was better, completing 8-of-12 passes for 131 yards and two TDs in limited time in the blowout victory.
Hurricanes fans, however, got a glimpse of the future when redshirt freshman N’kosi Perry came in and completed 9-of-14 passes for 93 yards and three touchdowns, along with one interception.
When asked this week about whether Rosier would be the starter going forward, Richt was noncommittal.
“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.”
Miami quarterback Malik Rosier threw for 333 yards and three TDs in last year's win over Toledo, but there are questions who the Hurricanes starter will be when they visit the Rockets on Saturday.
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Rosier had a good game against Toledo last season in a 52-30 home win, completing 27-of-36 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns.
He knows that he and the Hurricanes will have to be ready for the game at Toledo.
“They are a team that is used to winning by double digits,” Rosier said. “They are not going to just roll over, and we can’t just bypass these guys. They are going to come out physical and hyped and ready to play, so I’m excited.”
As a program, Miami is not afraid to schedule road games at good Group of Five schools. Two seasons ago, the Hurricanes won 45-10 at Appalachian State and last year had a game at Arkansas State on the schedule, but it ended up being canceled because of the threat of Hurricane Irma.
Rosier remembers the great atmosphere at Appalachian State in 2016 and expects more of the same in Toledo.
“For us, it’s just about going there and winning, whether there are 100 fans or a million fans,” Rosier said. “For us it’s just 120 yards and a football. We just have to go in there and do our job. We can’t let their atmosphere affect how we play.
“I feel like if we go out and we execute and have a few good drives, I think the crowd will get taken out of it. That’s our job to take the crowd out of it and put points on the board. They are going to be amped up because it's versus Miami and everyone loves playing us."
"I think you'll see a really great crowd. This will be the marquee event in Toledo this weekend."— Toledo Football (@ToledoFB) September 10, 2018
-@CoachCandle on the Miami Hurricanes coming to the Glass Bowl this Saturday.
Toledo led Miami 16-10 at halftime at Hard Rock Stadium last year. Richt knows that Toledo, which has beaten seven ranked opponents since 2003, can hang with the Hurricanes and said he is impressed with the job UT coach Jason Candle and his staff have done with the program.
“Jason Candle, in his third season at Toledo, is doing a great job,” Richt said. “He has already got 22 victories. [Toledo] was 11-3 last year and he was [MAC] Coach of the Year last year. They won their league last year — great job by him and his staff.
“Of course we played them a year ago, it was our first game off [Hurricane Irma] and it was a barn burner. It was a battle to the very end. They did a great job and our guys fought like mad too, and we ended up winning it. It was a great battle, and we expect the same [Saturday].”
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