In what may be an ACC Championship Game Preview, the No. 7 Miami Hurricanes will square off against the No. 1 Clemson Tigers in primetime on Saturday night. Both teams are 3-0 on the season, and have among the more prolific offenses in the country.
Miami boasts the seventh-highest scoring offense in the FBS, averaging 43.3 points per game, while Clemson is the eighth at 42.3. The Tigers do have an edge on defense, allowing a stingy 12 points per game, while the Hurricanes are giving up a still-respectable 19.3.
Clemson is a 14-point favorite at home, and the over/under is 63.5. Kickoff is at 7:30 P.M. Eastern on ABC.
Miami Hurricanes – Continue the Carnage
Head coach Manny Diaz has turned Miami’s program around in his second year at the helm. After a 6-7 campaign in 2019, and a 14-0 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl, Miami is once again a force to be reckoned with.
Running back Cam’Ron Harris leads Miami as the 11th ranked rusher in the nation with 311 yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback D’Eriq King ranks 17th in college football with 736 passing yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. King is also a threat to scramble; he is the second-leading Hurricanes rusher with 157 yards and a score. UM needs to continue scoring in bunches when they face Clemson, easily the toughest opponent on any team’s schedule in 2020.
Defensively, Miami will be faced with the unenviable task of slowing down Trevor Lawrence. The Hurricane defense has four interceptions and four fumble recoveries this season, and needs to force Clemson to turn the ball over to get the upset win. That won’t be easy, as Lawrence’s last interception came on October 19, 2019 in a win over Louisville.
Clemson Tigers – Eyes on the Prize
After winning the College Football Playoff in 2018, the Tigers came up just short last season, falling to LSU 42-25 in the National Championship. Clemson hopes to return to their 2018 dominance this year, and is off to an incredible start. Miami is one of three ranked teams on Clemson’s schedule (the others are No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 19 Virginia Tech) , so the path to the CFP is relatively clear.
Lawrence, a potential #1 overall draft pick in the 2021 NFL draft, is back at the helm of a dynamic Tiger offense. He has done a great job of balancing the passing and rushing attacks, while letting RB Travis Etienne take on an expanded role. Etienne has recorded 243 rushing yards and 172 receiving yards through three games, with three combined touchdowns.
Clemson’s defense is as lights-out as ever. Sophomore cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. leads the team in interceptions and passes defended. Freshman defensive end Myles Murphy leads the Tigers in sacks and is second in tackles with 15. Clemson’s 13 sacks are tied for second in the FBS and opposing quarterbacks are completing just 50% of their passes against Dabo Swinney’s team.
If there is a “weakness” to Clemson however, it’s the defense that only has three takeaways through three games, a much lower total than what we’ve come to expect from this unit. For Miami to win, they cannot turn the ball over; if they do, Clemson will make them pay. Whichever team wins the turnover battle will likely be the program to emerge on top.
The Pick Is In
Common sense says that you shouldn’t pick against Clemson, especially when Lawrence is still running the show at QB. The Tigers are 32-1 since Lawrence arrived, with that one loss being in the 2019 National Championship. While we expect Clemson to win against Miami on Saturday, the Hurricanes offense is potent enough to keep the game close.
FREE PICK: Miami Hurricanes (+14)