NCAA Football: Michigan State Spartans vs. Miami Hurricanes Preview, Prediction & Odds - Sept. 18, 2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: Noon ET, Sept. 18, 2021 
Venue: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL
Where to watch: ABC

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Miami -6.5; O/U 56; Miami -250, Michigan State +200
BetMGM: Miami -6.5; O/U 54.5; Miami -222, Michigan State +180
Caesars: Miami -6.5; O/U 55.5; Miami -250, Michigan State +205

Season record
Michigan State: 2-0 (1-0 Big Ten)
No. 24 Miami (FL): 1-1

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Michigan State - Miami (FL) preview and analysis


Recent form
Michigan State: won 42-14 vs. Youngstown State on Sept. 11
Miami (FL): won 25-23 vs. Appalachian State on Sept. 11

I have no idea what to think about the Miami Hurricanes. This is what the beginning of the college football season will do to you.

Miami should be a top team in the country. The Canes were at the beginning of the year before they played Alabama. A neutral-site loss to the best team in the country dropped Miami eight spots after Week 1, and then another two after a narrow 25-23 win over Appalachian State on Saturday.

So what do you do with a team you have no idea about? Have them face another team you have no idea about.

Because no one should be blamed if they thought the Michigan State Spartans should be 1-1 heading into this matchup with the 24th-ranked Hurricanes. Alas, here the Spartans are at 2-0 and receiving votes for the AP Top 25. College football is weird, man.

No doubt, this is an impressive start for Mel Tucker and the Spartans, going on the road to win by two touchdowns at Northwestern, followed with a  42-14 win Saturday at home against Youngstown State. There’s a lot of football left to be played to figure out if Tucker’s Spartans are going to be on par with Mark Dantonio’s club, but to be one-third done from being bowl eligible is a strong start.

But the one thing that stands out from Dantonio’s previous squads before he retired was the emergence at the quarterback position. Payton Thorne has been stellar to start the season, throwing five touchdowns to no interceptions. On top of taking care of the ball, Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III has shredded run defenses by averaging 160.5 YPG to start the season. This offense is not like your grandfather’s East Lansing brethren, but so far they’ve been fun to watch.

The same can’t really be said in the land of Miami Gardens, Florida. And if you’re a fan of Miami football, your patience is running thin on when they’ll get back to an ACC title game and actually contend for national championships.

Miami was hoping that D’Eriq King would take that Heisman leap, but that’s been TBD through two weeks. Miami’s offense has not looked great, and King was pedestrian against App State. King threw for 200 yards and no touchdowns while being sacked twice.

Prediction


If you’re playing this game, it’s all about who you trust more. At the end of the day, based off the first two weeks, I trust Michigan State more. If there’s a game for King to show he can lead this Miami team to a deep run, it’s this one, but it seems more like typical Miami to let everyone down again. Michigan State by 10.

Betting trends


Michigan State is 4-5 against the spread on the road in its last nine games.

Miami is 1-5 against the spread in games following a non-conference game, and 1-7 after winning at home.

Players to watch


Michigan State: Jayden Reed has been Thorne’s top target so far, reeling in two touchdowns on only nine catches, but also 245 yards. He’s averaging 27.2 yards per catch.

Miami: If the Canes can exploit the big play, look for Xavier Restrepo in the slot. Restrepo has only four catches, but has 73 yards and King’s lone touchdown. Key’Shawn Smith and Charleston Rambo will see a lot of attention, which could open the door for Restrepo.

Statistical leaders


Michigan State:
Passing: Payton Thorne -- 465 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Kenneth Walker III -- 321 yards, 5 TD
Receiving: Jayden Reed -- 245 yards, 2 TD
Defense: Xavier Henderson -- 17 tackles, 2 sacks

Miami (FL):
Passing: D’Eriq King -- 379 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Cam’Ron Harris -- 128 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Key’Shawn Smith -- 110 yards
Defense: Gurvan Hall Jr. -- 18 tackles

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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