No. 10 Miami returns to action against Duke
Miami will travel to face Duke on Saturday night, the Hurricanes’ first game in three weeks, ending a hiatus caused by a COVID-19 outbreak within the program.
The Hurricanes (7-1, 6-1 ACC) were scheduled to travel to Wake Forest and the Blue Devils (2-7, 1-7) were supposed to host Florida State before positive COVID-19 cases increased among the Demon Deacons and Seminoles.
It’s unclear who will be available for the Hurricanes against Duke, but coach Manny Diaz said his team would have enough players.
“There will be some unique challenges to this week just to get to Saturday with the way we can practice and the way we meet throughout the week,” Diaz said Monday. “But we’re happy for the league to be able to arrange it to go get us a game.”
The Hurricanes, No. 10 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, still have a chance to reach the ACC championship game if they win their remaining games and if Clemson loses to Virginia Tech on Saturday. If the Hurricanes win out, they likely would earn a New Year’s Six bowl bid.
“We do have a special team, and this team wants to finish what they started,” Diaz said. “We’re in December, we have one loss, and are in the top 10. Who knows what’s going to happen here the next few weeks?”
The Blue Devils have won the past two meetings against Miami, including a 27-17 comeback victory last season at Durham.
Duke leads the nation with 30 turnovers and ranks 126th out of 127 FBS teams in turnover margin (minus-13). The issues continued last week with five giveaways in a 56-33 defeat at Georgia Tech.
Junior quarterback Chase Brice has thrown an ACC-leading 13 interceptions and has the third-worst completion percentage (.535) and the second-worst quarterback rating (108.79) in the conference.
“A big part of turning the ball over was just getting out of sync,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “It’s hard to explain. It’s a unique time we’re going through and we tried like crazy to learn from it.”
Duke will attempt to slow Miami senior quarterback D’Eriq King, who ranks fourth in the ACC in passing yards per game (260.8) and touchdown passes (17) and fifth in completion percentage (.637) and pass efficiency (149.0). King is also Miami’s second-leading rusher (421 yards) behind junior Cam’Ron Harris (471 yards).
“He looks like he has a great knowledge of what they’re trying to do,” Cutcliffe said. “He’s … a multi-threat player. And he takes advantage of everything a defense gives him.”
The Hurricanes have the third-best scoring defense in the ACC (24.8 points per game), led by senior Quincy Roche (11 tackles for loss) and junior Jaelan Phillips (five sacks).
The Blue Devils have put together an effective running game led by junior Mataeo Durant, who ranks fourth in the ACC in yards per carry (6.62). Miami’s run defense ranks fifth in the ACC (149.5 yards allowed per game).
On defense, Duke’s pass rush is among the nation’s most effective, averaging 3.2 sacks per game and led by junior Chris Rumph (eight sacks) and senior Victor Dimukeje (7 1/2 sacks). But Duke is giving up 35 points per game and ranks 82nd in the nation in total yards allowed per game (427.4) and 97th in rushing yards allowed per game (200.11).
–Field Level Media