Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Clemson - Miami Preview and Prediction
Clemson Tigers at Miami Hurricanes
Saturday October 24 ABC 3:30 PM
Line: MIA -5
The Miami Hurricanes find themselves squarely in the mix for the ACC's Coastal Division title at 5-1 but so do the Clemson Tigers in the Atlantic Division even with two losses. The two meet on Saturday for the first time since 2005 and a thrilling OT win by Miami in Clemson's Death Valley. Both teams need this game to keep pace in their divisions and hopes alive for an ACC Championship.
Three Questions For Clemson
1. Road Struggles
The Tigers have played just two road games this season losing both of them. Clemson has especially struggled to establish a running game away from Death Valley gaining just 103 ypg on the ground versus a 145 average on the season. Are the struggles just a coincidence or do the Tigers truly play different on the road?
2. Pass Rush
A consistent pass rush makes even really good QBs like Jacory Harris look average. At Va Tech Harris really struggled with the pressure the Hokies were able to put on him. Clemson cannot let Harris sit back in the pocket pitching it to his speedy WR group. Clemson already has more sacks this season (17) than all of last (15). Can the Bamberg Ends Ricky Sapp and Da'Quan Bowers get in Harris' face?
3. Special Teams
I will be straight up - I do not think Clemson can go toe to toe with Miami for 60 minutes on offense and defense. They will need the third dimension, special teams, to be in their favor. CJ Spiller and Jacoby Ford need to be special in the kicking game.
Three Questions For Miami
1. Establish the Running Game
In Miami's only loss of the season they rushed for just 59 yards on 34 carries. As good as the passing game has been under new OC Mark Whipple it success derives partly from the play action pass set up by the run. The Hurricanes may need their running game in the fourth when looking to keep it away from CJ Spiller and Clemson.
2. Stack the Box
Miami front seven should be able to manage Clemson's running game but if they really want to turn up the pressure they could put a safety down in the box and make Clemson QB Kyle Parker beat them. Parker is hitting just 49 percent of his passes and the Tiger rank 96th in passing offense. I say make Clemson beat you "left handed".
The 'Canes are a beat up football team and their injury report lists several contributors as doubtful or questionable including second leading rusher Graig Cooper. Does the young Miami team have enough quality depth to overcome these injuries?
I am surprised a little bit by how the line has moved so much in Clemson's favor opening at MIA -7 and now down to -4.5 to -5.5. I think the Hurricanes have more talent, better coaching (especially on offense), and are playing at home. They have also shown better maturity by beating teams they should in convincing fashion and not have letdowns after big wins or losses like in years past.
Miami 27 Clemson 20
Miami Covers -5