Miami football squeaks inside ESPN post-spring Top 25 rankings

The Miami football team squeaked inside the ESPN post-spring top 25 rankings released on Monday.
Oct 14, 2023; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Miami Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal stands
Oct 14, 2023; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Miami Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal stands / Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami football team is 24th in the updated ESPN "College football post-spring Top 25 rankings" posted on Monday. Miami is fifth among ACC teams in the ESPN top 25. Florida State who is 11th, North Carolina State 13th, Clemson 16th and Virginia Tech 21st are the ACC teams ranked ahead of Miami.

Miami hosts Virginia Tech on September 27 and Florida State on October 26. Miami does not play North Carolina State or Clemson in 2024. Many analysts have pointed to Miami's favorable schedule as a reason they should be ACC contenders. Louisville was the sole ACC team to drop out of the rankings.

Virginia Tech is one of three new teams in the rankings with Iowa and USC. The ESPN Top 25 does not include any Group of Five programs. Miami has a potentially challenging non-conference schedule. Miami opens the season at Florida on August 31. The last 2024 non-conference game for Miami is at South Florida on September 7.

Miami's home opener is versus Florida A&M on September 7. Miami also hosts Ball State in non-conference on September 21. The game against Virginia Tech concludes a September stretch for Miami with all five games in Florida. Miami does not leave Florida until October 6 at California.

"24. Miami Hurricanes
Spring update: There's no question that Mario Cristobal has been stockpiling talent -- both through traditional high school recruiting and via the transfer portal. After going 12-13 in his first two seasons, Cristobal needs to turn that talent into some victories... With transfer quarterback Cam Ward (Washington State) and tailback Damien Martinez (Oregon State) joining the Canes, there's reason for optimism. The offensive line should be good, and Miami added Houston's Sam Brown to a solid receiver corps. Cristobal bolstered the defensive line by adding four transfers (and counting): C.J. Clark (NC State), Marley Cook (Middle Tennessee), Elijah Alston (Marshall) and Simeon Barrow (Michigan State). Defensive end Rueben Bain Jr. was the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year with 7½ sacks in 2023, and Akheem Mesidor is back after playing only three games last season because of injuries to both of his feet."

Mark Schlabach, ESPN

Miami is higher ranked in most of the other preseason Top 25s. The highest ranking for Miami in a major media outlet is 14th by J.D. Pickell of On3. The additions of Martinez and Ward could elevate Miami to an elite offense in 2024. Miami returns three starters on the OL and leading receivers Xavier Restrepo and Jacolby George.

Barrow, Clark and Cook provide a solid rotation at defensive tackle. Alston, Bain and Mesidor could become a daunting group of edge rushers for opposing offensive lines to block. The biggest question for Miami entering the 2024 season will be at safety. Washington transfer Mishael Powell is expected to be one starting safety.

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The other starting safety for Miami will be determined in August training camp. True freshman Zaquan Patterson is a player to watch. Development will be key for Miami in August. Cristobal faces a critical season after beginning his Miami tenure with a 12-13 record.