LSU Defense too Talented for ‘Canes

No. 8 Miami (-3.5) vs. No. 25 LSU

Opening Line: Miami -3
Opening Total: 45.5
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
Site: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX

Betting action is close to 50-50 against the spread with Miami getting 56 percent of tickets across the top online sportsbooks. The line has moved a half point from -3 to -3.5 in favor of the Hurricanes since publication (Aug, 31). The total is where sharps are buying in. Wise guys have pushed the number north to 46.5 from an initial 45.5 offer, despite 76 percent of tickets backing the UNDER.

Miami (FL) Hurricanes

2017 SU Record: 10-3
2017 ATS Record: 5-8
2017 Avg. Line: -9.6

The Hurricanes return 14 starters, including QB Malik Rosier, who threw for 3,120 yards and 26 TDs in 2017. The offense averages 29.1 points per game with the senior signal-caller under center, but dipped to 18.3 in three matchups last year against proven scoring defenses yielding fewer than 24 points the prior season. LSU allowed 18.9 per contest last season, ranking 15th nationally.

Miami’s signature Turnover Chain is back on the sidelines for 2018. The defense recorded 31 takeaways last season, fourth among FBS programs. The unit averaged 2.0 turnovers and 321.1 opponent yards in six contests facing ranked opponents. The unit returns seven, but the defensive front is slightly weakened with the departures of DL R.J. McIntosh, DL Ken Norton, and DE Chad Thomas.

LSU Tigers

2017 SU Record: 9-4
2017 ATS Record: 9-4
2017 Avg. Line: -9.6

Plenty of question marks surround the LSU offense entering 2018. For one, few know what to expect from coordinator Steve Ensminger, who has not held the position full-time since 1998. Reports suggest the Tigers plan to lean on the pass more. We are not sure that’s part of LSU’s DNA.

The backfield is even more perplexing. Usually filled with household names (Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice, etc.), relative unknowns Nick Brosette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire feature at running back. Brosette was a third-stringer last season; Edwards-Helaire is a sophomore with 19 career carries. Others wonder if QB Joe Burrow, an Ohio State backup for three years, has what it takes under center to guide the unit.

The defense only returns five starters, but they are premium. CB Greedy Williams and LB Devin White are future first-round picks, leading a unit loaded with four- and five-star prospects. The Tigers rank sixth nationally in recruiting the last four years, and most of the top-tier talent is on this side of the ball. Expect zero regression.

Pick: LSU +3.5

LSU will use the largely partisan crowd to help upset the Hurricanes late. “We know it’s going to be a home field advantage,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron remarked of the game in Arlington, TX. “It’s going to be like Death Valley in there. I can’t wait.”

SEC teams are 11-5 SU (8-8 ATS) in ranked matchups against ACC foes on neutral soil since 2007. This includes a 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS mark in season openers. Expect hard-hitting, smash-mouth football with the more talented Tigers’ roster the difference. Projected score: LSU 24-23.