No. 7 Miami at No. 1 Clemson
Manny Diaz explained earlier this week when his Miami Hurricanes punch Clemson in the mouth, he knows the Tigers are going to punch them right back. He then said, the key for his team was their ability to withstand the Tigers’ punch.
That is the biggest question of all. Clemson has been on this stage many, many times in the last five years, while the Hurricanes have not. With ESPN’s College GameDay in town, along with a nationally televised audience watching at home, is Miami ready for the pressure of playing on the big stage, right now?
We are going to find out. However, while Miami tries to figure things out, Clemson is going to treat this week’s game like it does every big game.
“Obviously, we have been in a lot of big games. We built our program for games like this and from games like this. There is no doubt about it,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “We have a lot of guys on the roster who have been in a bunch of big games. And as you said, the culture, the mentality. Our mentality is this is the biggest game of the year, for only one reason … because this is the one we are playing.
“If you don’t have that mindset, well, on the last day everything counts. You will lose that Virginia game, lose that Wake Forest game, you will know how quickly how important that games was. You do not get any mulligans. You got to be great where your feet are. That is just the mindset that we have. This is the biggest game of the year, not because they are Miami, not because they are No. 7, but because that is who we are playing and come Monday the biggest game of the year will be Georgia Tech. Now, this is the biggest challenge of the year. There is no doubt about that. You turn the tape on, and anybody can see that. These guys are really, really talented and we will have to play well.”
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson
Records: Clemson 3-0, 2-0 ACC; Miami 3-0, 2-0 ACC
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
TV: ABC (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Allison Williams)
Radio: Clemson Tigers Network (Don Munson, Tim Bourret, Reggie Merriweather)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 84, XM 84, Internet 84
Latest Line: Clemson minus-14
- Clemson trails series, 5-6
- HOME: Clemson trails series, 0-2
- ROAD: Clemson leads series, 4-3
- NEUTRAL: Series is tied, 1-1
- LAST MEETING: Dec. 2, 2017 (38-3, W)
- STREAK: Clemson, Won 2
Three story lines
While much focus is expected to be placed on marquee quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence of Clemson and Miami’s D’Eriq King, the game will also feature two defenses that have been among the nation’s most productive behind the line of scrimmage in recent years. Since 2016, Clemson and Miami rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the country, respectively, in both sacks and tackles for loss. Clemson holds a 209-177 lead over Miami in sacks and a 521-494 lead in tackles for loss in that time frame. Both teams enter this game ranked in the Top 10 in tackles for loss, with Miami sitting tied for fourth with 31 and Clemson tied for eighth with 27.
Travis Etienne’s ability to catches passes and run after the catch might play an important role in this game, especially if the Hurricanes just try to bottle him up in the run game. Etienne’s prowess as a receiver was on display last week, as he recorded 114 receiving yards, a Clemson record for a running back. This week, he’ll have the opportunity to become the first Clemson player to record a rushing touchdown and receiving touchdown in back-to-back games since C.J. Spiller in 2009.
Miami boasts one of the nation’s top tight end tandems in juniors Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory, who have been listed as co-starters on the offensive depth chart for the first four games of the season. Jordan, who has started all three games, put on a show versus Louisville, finishing with seven catches for 120 yards and a 47-yard touchdown. He added five catches for 41 yards with one touchdown against FSU. Mallory opened Miami’s scoring with a 17-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter of the win at Louisville.
Miami’s three players to watch
D’Eriq King, QB: King earned his second straight ACC Quarterback of the Week honor Sept. 28 after throwing for 267 yards on 29-for-40 passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions against Florida State. For the season, King has thrown for 736 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. He also has 157 rushing yards and one touchdown.
Cam’Ron Harris, RB: Harris already has 311 yards and five touchdowns this season. He ran for 134-yards in the Hurricanes’ 47-34 on the road at Louisville on Sept. 19. Harris had a career-long 75-yard touchdown run in the win.
Bevin Jordan, TE: Jordan is possible for first-round draft pick in next April’s NFL Draft. Though he is 6-foot-3, 245, the junior plays like a wide receiver. He leads Miami with 15 catches for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Jordan, who was the only Hurricane selected to the All-ACC Preseason Team, was one of three Mackey Award finalists last year as the nation’s top tight end and was selected to the 2019 All-ACC First Team.
I have gone back and forth with this one, as far as the score. I think Miami is a much-improved team, but I don’t know if they have all the pieces in place just yet to be a true contender for the College Football Playoff. I think the Hurricanes are definitely a top 15 team right now, but they still have issues on the offensive line which they can mask and scheme around most teams. But Clemson is not most teams. However, with Brent Venables defensive schemes, the athletes and just the studs Clemson has on defense, the Tigers will get a few more stops than Miami and will pull away late. Expect this to be a tight game for a while though.
Score prediction: Clemson 45, Miami 31
–Clemson and Miami Athletic Communications departments contributed to this story
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