By Charles Jay
I went to school at the University of Miami. I have witnessed the rise of this program from the ashes, and all those national championships. I have also witnessed the off-the-field moments that were not so savory. But I am not sure there has been a lower point in the last, say, 35 years, than the loss to FIU last week. The idea that Miami could actually be a national title contender again any time in the near future now has to take a back seat to being second best in their own city.
So I’m wondering what the mindset is going to be like as they take the field on Saturday afternoon against the Duke Blue Devils, in a game that kicks off at 3:30 PM ET at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham.
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Last weekend, Miami lost a 30-24 decision to Florida international, which aspires to compete with the ‘Canes in recruiting athletes in the South Florida area. With that defeat, Miami became the first team in 40 years to lose three games straight-up as a favorite of 14 points or more, according to the stat guys at ESPN. It was also quite crushing that they lost to Butch Davis, the former coach at the school, who bolted to sign a contract with the Cleveland Browns. Miami had lost an earlier game to Georgia Tech, a team that has been in bad shape offensively, transitioning from the triple option to a more pro-style passing attack.
Miami has had an extra week to prepare three times this season, and in all three cases they have lost. Head coach Manny Diaz admits that he was not prepared for last week’s game, and there is no question that a lot of people are down on the Miami program. In wake of the setback, the ‘Canes even lost a few of their players who had done an early commitment for the 2021 season.
But when you’re handicapping this current matchup, you have to consider that Diaz has taken great pains to make sure he didn’t make the same mistakes again.
In the college football betting odds posted on this game, Miami is laying a healthy number on the road:
Miami Hurricanes -9
Duke Blue Devils +9
Over 45 points -110
Under 45 points -110
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Quarterback Jarren Williams has certainly taken his lumps as a redshirt freshman, and he threw three interceptions against FIU. His offensive line has not helped him a lot; only five teams in the country have allowed more sacks in Miami. Another consequence is that the running game will struggle, and Miami will be without DeeJay Dallas, their leading rusher (693 yards, 6 yards per carry), who has a dislocated elbow. As a result of this, it’s possible that Lorenzo Lingard, who came into the program have a as a four-star recruit, could see action. The bizarre news this past week was that Tate Martell, Ohio State transfer who was competing at the quarterback position but had been shifted to wide receiver, has taken his second leave of absence from the team.
Even though they lost Daniel Jones to the New York Giants in the first round of the NFL Draft, we still expected more offense out of the Blue Devils, with a mind like David Cutcliffe at the controls. But senior Quenton Harris, who took over the reins with a lot of knowledge about the system, has struggled to stay inside the top 100 in passing efficiency. This team does not help itself in the turnover department (minus-8), and even a decent pass defense (ranked 42nd) has not prevented them from losing five games in a row, four of them by double digits.
Miami’s defense looked flat last week, but they nonetheless rank among the top 20 in the nation, and get great penetration, as they are fourth in the nation in sacks and third in Tackles for Loss. That is the place where they will have to excel. And as if they need more motivation, this is a revenge game, as Miami suffered a 20-12 defeat in last year’s meeting.
Certainly an “under” play would not be out of line, and we are also going to lay the points with Miami, as they take advantage of an opportunity to bounce back against a Duke team which has been even more listless lately.
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