College Football Game of the Week: Clemson vs. Miami

Story posted October 7, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Christopher Hess

The ACC has one of the tightest conference races through a relatively young season, and the pivotal matchup between No. 7 Miami and No. 1 Clemson at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 should add even more fuel to the fire.

In just three games, the Hurricanes have already found confidence in Rhett Lashlee’s offense that couldn’t be seen under Dan Enos in 2019. Miami has the ability to put up points in bunches, doing so in a quick-strike fashion.

Heisman contender D’Eriq King is the ringleader of the potent Miami offense and will look to challenge the nation’s top team. In three games, King has registered 63 completions on 94 attempts with 736 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also has 157 rushing yards on 28 carries with one touchdown.

Aside from King, the Hurricanes have other weapons on offense that have the ability to change the course of the game at any moment. One of those players is running back Cam’Ron Kelly.

Kelly has rushed for 311 yards on 38 carries, averaging just over 8 yards per carry, and has found the end zone five times. His blistering speed and ability to break a play wide open provides nightmares for defenses.

Manny Diaz’s team also presents one of the best tight ends in the nation in Brevin Jordan. Jordan’s lanky 6-foot-3-inch frame creates a favorable matchup against defensive backs, and his 212 yards receiving and three touchdowns lead the team.

In addition, receivers such as Mark Pope, Mike Harley and Dee Wiggins are vertical threats and give D’Eriq King options through the air.

On defense, the Canes have taken an even more aggressive approach than normal, and they already played with a nasty attitude to begin with.

Miami has forced six turnovers this season, and cornerback Al Blades Jr. leads the defense in interceptions with two. Hard-hitting safeties Bubba Bolden and Amari Carter can also be looked upon as two of the better defenders on the team.

Carter leads all defensive players with 17 tackles, and Bolden has 14 tackles alongside two forced fumbles.

Other defensive standouts include linebacker Zach McCloud, defensive ends Quincy Roche and Jaelan Phillips, and defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera.

The Canes have no shortage of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, all of whom will look to stop a lethal Clemson attack.

Clemson has been one of the best teams in the nation for the past decade and has made an appearance in every College Football Playoff but the first one in 2014.

It’s no surprise that Dabo Swinney’s teams reload every year, but this 2020 team is led by an established group of veterans. That veteran leadership starts with potential No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Trevor Lawrence.

Lawrence’s ability to make NFL-caliber throws has been on full display even before he committed to Clemson. The junior gunslinger hasn’t been truly tested yet this season, but he still has completed 55 passes on 75 attempts for 848 yards and seven touchdowns. He also has three rushing touchdowns.

Travis Etienne is also one of the most coveted running back prospects in the upcoming draft class. He could have easily left Clemson after his junior season and been a first-round pick.

Etienne decided to come back to school for his senior season, and he’s already off to a fast start with 243 yards on the ground, two rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown.

At wide receiver, the Tigers rely heavily on Amari Rodgers and Frank Ladson Jr. The two have combined for 21 receptions, 385 yards and five touchdowns in just three games and are expected to be some of the better wide receivers in college football for the remainder of the season.

Linebacker Baylon Spector, defensive end Myles Murphy, linebacker James Skalski and defensive end Regan Upshaw are the leaders of the Tigers defense. Spector leads all tacklers with 20, and the freshman Murphy has two sacks through the first three games. Skalski, meanwhile, is cut from an old-school cloth and is about as blue-collar as they come.

Andrew Booth and Nolan Turner have one interception apiece as part of a secondary that hasn’t seen much of a challenge from opponents thus far. Clemson’s only games have come against Wake Forest, The Citadel and Virginia, with the Tigers winning all three matchups decisively.

Miami was at least tested, so to speak, by Louisville, but that 47-34 win over the Cardinals doesn’t reveal how lopsided that result really was.

Look for both sides to come out firing in a game that will be relatively close heading into the final frame. But it’s Clemson’s all-around experience and playmaking ability that will propel the Tigers to a victory over a stingy Miami team. Don’t be surprised if the two sides meet again in the ACC championship game.

Prediction: Clemson 41, Miami 24

 

Christopher Hess is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email christopherhess22@gmail.com.