Clemson Tigers (3-3, 4-2 ATS) at No. 10 Miami Hurricanes (5-1, 4-1 ATS)
Land Shark Stadium Miami, F.L. Saturday October 24th 3:30PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Clemson+7/Miami -7
With a Virginia Tech loss last weekend to Georgia Tech, the Miami Hurricanes are right back in the thick of the ACC Championship race with a 5-1 season record. The Hurricanes have been playing well with 3 straight wins including a big home victory over Oklahoma and they may be the best offense in the conference. The 10th ranked Hurricanes get the luxury of hosting the Clemson Tigers this weekend and add another quality win to their resume.
Clemson is coming off a 38-3 blowout victory over Wake Forest that may have salvaged the Tigers season. Clemson entered last week under the .500 mark for the first time in 5 years after just 5 games. The Tigers were slight favorites over the Demon Deacons, but their offense came to life and restored faith for those in Death Valley. Clemson has normally stumbled at the midway point of the season in year’s past, but usually starts to come on strong towards the latter part of the season. Perhaps last week’s 35 point win was an indication that Clemson has righted the ship and they will get to try and take down the number 10 ranked Miami Hurricanes this Saturday.
Surely, everyone is aware of QB Jacory Harris’ big season down in Miami. Harris has played great with throwing 11 touchdowns and 1,519 yards on the year. Harris has also completed a solid 65% throwing accuracy even though the Miami quarterback has given up 7 interceptions. However, those interceptions have not rattled Harris one bit as he is one of the most calm and collected quarterbacks around. When mistakes have been made, the offense resets and goes right back to attacking defenses.
However the last time the Hurricanes faced a defensive secondary like Clemson, Harris was held a season low 9 for 25 and 150 yards in a big 31-7 loss to Virginia Tech. The Tigers defense has the speed of an SEC defense and they fly around the ball. The Tigers have all types of impressive defensive categories that play into the picture. First the Tigers rank 11th in overall defense allowing 270 yards per game. More importantly the pass defense is even better ranking 7th nationally allowing just 147 yards per contest. If those corners and safeties can keep some of the speedy Miami receivers in front and prevent the big plays, this should be a good ball game.
Clemson’s defense also does a good job at getting to the quarterback which will be really huge in Saturday’s contest. The Tigers rank 19th in America averaging 2.83 sacks per game and it will be an absolute necessity for the defense to put pressure on Harris because the longer he has to throw the ball the more dangerous his arm becomes.
The Miami defense is a unit that we do not know what to expect. The Hurricanes defense has played well at times and not so well at times. The Hurricanes defense shut down Georgia Tech earlier this year holding them to only 95 yards on the ground. Georgia Tech is one of the biggest running threats in the country, but Miami withstood their challenge. However, a week later Miami gave up 272 yards on the ground to Virginia Tech in blowout loss. It is that type of inconsistency that has played out for the defense all season. The defense played very well up front and in the secondary against Oklahoma holding the Sooners to just 341 total yards. The Hurricanes will need that type of performance this week against Clemson because they are a balanced offense that can beat you a number of ways.
The Tigers have some really explosive playmakers in running back C.J. Spiller and wide receiver Jacoby Ford. Actually both players may be more dangerous in special teams than they are on offensive in some ways. Spiller has returned two kickoffs back this year and is averaging 37 yards a return. Ford has returned a punt return and ranks 2nd in the ACC averaging 15 yards per return.
Outside of special teams play, the offense revolves around freshman QB Kyle Parker. Parker has not been extremely impressive, but he is still learning as well. Parker has 5 picks and only 6 scores this season and is completing just 48% passing. However even with Parker struggling for the most part, defenses must respect the passing game. The big reason is Jacoby Ford’s speed at the receiver position. Ford is one of the fastest receivers you will see at the college ranks and leads the team with 26 catches for 358 yards.
The Tigers have actually been very disappointed they have not been able to get Ford the ball more often. The same disappointment can be said for running back C.J Spiller. Outside of a couple big plays this season, Spiller has not had the production Clemson fans desired. Spiller has just 466 yards on the season after behind held as a Heisman runner by the Clemson faithful heading into the season. With the Heisman talk out of the way, perhaps Spiller can help the Tigers salvage a winning record.
Jay’s Pick - Clemson defense should keep things close. Take Clemson +7.