ESPN ranks Miami football 2024 season-defining game

With the Miami football team ranked 24th, ESPN ranked "The season-defining games for college football's top 25 teams."

Aug 24, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back DeeJay Dallas (13) breaks a tackle
Aug 24, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back DeeJay Dallas (13) breaks a tackle / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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The Miami football team is expected to have a mostly favorable 2024 schedule. In analyzing "The season-defining games for college football's top 25 teams" ESPN chose the season-opening game at Florida for Miami as its most season-defining game. ESPN ranks Miami 24th in its Way Too Early Top 25.

Miami at Florida on August 31 will be one of the marquee games of the opening weekend. No matter what the outcome is for Miami, the game will be over-amplified. Miami hosts Florida A&M and Ball State before traveling to South Florida to conclude their non-conference schedule. Virginia Tech plays at Miami on September 27 to begin ACC Play.

No matter what happens in Gainesville, Miami has a favorable schedule to begin the season. Miami finishes the first half of the season on October 5 in California, before the first of two bye weeks. The Hurricanes won all four of their non-conference regular-season games in 2023 before losing to Georgia Tech to begin ACC play.

Miami is the third favorite to win the ACC at plus 450 per Fanduel. Clemson and Florida State are the co-favorites at +280. The Hurricanes will enter another season with relatively high expectations. After two mediocre seasons, Miami will be under a lot of pressure to produce wins in 2024.

"24. Miami Hurricanes

It is hard to call any opener a season-defining game, but it fits in this case. Miami opens at Florida in a game that both coaches desperately need to win to show their respective fan bases that things will be different this year. For the Hurricanes, a win would help set the tone for what comes next -- a manageable schedule that features only two teams expected to be ranked in the preseason top 25. Miami coach Mario Cristobal has a 12-13 record his first two years taking over at his alma mater. He has stacked exceptional recruiting classes and effectively used the portal. This is the year the Hurricanes must take the next step. Beating Florida can help get them there. -- Adelson"

Andrea Adelson, ESPN

Cristobal and Billy Napier who is 11-14 in two seasons at Florida enter the 2024 season with a lot of pressure. Playing a rivalry game to open the season will add more pressure to the game. The losing fan base will likely call for their coach to be fired. With an 0-2 record versus Florida State, the Florida game takes on added significance for Cristobal.

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Fifteenth-ranked Florida State and number 21 Louisville are the only 2024 Miami opponents in the ESPN Top 25. Entering the season, Miami projects to be favored in every game except Florida, Florida State and Louisville. Miami has to win the games they are expected to win to take pressure off of Cristobal and show development in 2024.