Miami is in need of a statement win against Clemson after consecutive losses to Georgia Tech and Clemson that derailed its undefeated start to the season. The Tigers, who also enter the contest with two losses, are in need of a victory to keep their ACC title hopes alive.
Saturday night’s kickoff at Hard Rock Stadium is set for 8 p.m. Here’s what five members of The Miami Hurricane’s sports section are predicting for the game.
Clemson rolls into Hard Rock Stadium with a chip on their shoulder for the first time in a while. The ‘Canes limp back home after a disappointing loss in Chapel Hill. Both teams sit at 4-2. Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik has been very solid so far this season. Compared to Tyler Van Dyke, he has not been as explosive but has been far less turnover-prone. Van Dyke has to find a way to play the game more responsibly if the ‘Canes are to get back on track.
Miami’s offense has the edge over Clemson’s, but the Tigers defense is tougher than the ‘Canes. Miami needs a win at home in primetime to try and get the season back on track after two losses. Clemson needs this win to try and keep pace in the ACC and keep their ACC championship hopes alive.
This is a prove-it game for Miami. If it makes a statement here at home against Clemson, UM can start to turn the narrative about its season around. But, the ‘Canes are incredibly vulnerable right now. Clemson is a beatable team, but so was Georgia Tech and so was North Carolina.
My trust in Mario Cristobal and the ‘Canes is at an all-time low. Clemson is led by Dabo Swinney, who has played in big games and will have his team ready for this primetime game. Clemson is hungry, and I just don’t see that from Miami.
Prediction: Clemson 31, Miami 24
Six weeks down, and it seems Miami is out of gas. Three weeks ago, if asked about the Hurricanes’ outlook heading into week 7, I would’ve believed they separated themselves from their ACC counterparts. Unfortunately for the ‘Canes, that isn’t the case.
Last week, Miami doubled down on its trend of self-destructive performances in its loss to UNC, 41-31. The ‘Canes need another quality win, and even a victory against a formidable yet unranked opponent in Clemson could restart the ignition.
Swinney may know the taste of beating the ‘Canes; however, a retooled coaching staff begins an era where Swinney is inexperienced. This will be a tug-of-war game for quarterbacks; Van Dyke must assert himself that being outplayed by Klubnick is not an option. It’s easy to believe in Clemson’s defense, which has stifled opponents and allowed the fewest points in the ACC.
For Miami, this game comes down to turnovers offensively and penalties defensively. If UM can garner collective consistency from both units, this brawl is winnable.
Prediction: Miami 23, Clemson 17
Saturday’s loss at North Carolina was another step in the wrong direction for the ‘Canes in what could have been a huge bounce-back win on the road against a ranked opponent. Instead, a third-quarter collapse saw UNC pick apart Miami’s defense behind quarterback Drake Maye’s four touchdowns and Omarion Hampton’s 197 rushing yards.
Last year, the ‘Canes got torched by D.J. Uiagalelei and the Clemson offense, allowing 40 points. While I do not expect such a high-scoring game, the key for Miami’s defense will be to keep Klubnik and running back Will Shipley in check as they failed to do against UNC. Offensively, Van Dyke must limit his turnovers to give his team a chance to win, as he has thrown five interceptions in the last two games.
With Van Dyke’s recent struggles in taking care of the ball, I think the Clemson defense will take advantage of those mistakes and ultimately be the catalyst for the Tigers, leading them to a victory on the road at Hard Rock.
Prediction: Clemson 28, Miami 17
Football often revolves around quarterback play, and while Miami seemed to have a clear advantage over Clemson at the position to start the season, the last few weeks have told a different story.
Following a strong start to the year, Van Dyke has struggled in ACC play. Through four weeks, he completed 75 percent of his passes while posting a stellar 11-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. In his last two games, however, he has completed 65 percent of his passes while throwing as many interceptions (five) as he has touchdowns.
Klubnik, on the other hand, has recovered after some early-season woes. The Tigers have won four of their last five games – the one loss coming in overtime to No. 4 Florida State. In that span, Klubnik has thrown 10 touchdown passes and only one interception.
Overall, Miami has looked uninspired the last two weeks, and Van Dyke has not played well enough to cover up the team’s mistakes. The ‘Canes have not defeated Clemson since 2010, and barring a shift in momentum for both teams, I don’t see that changing on Saturday.
Prediction: Clemson 38, Miami 28