No. 16 Miami Hurricanes (2-1, 1-1 ATS) at Clemson Tigers (2-1, 1-2 ATS), College Football Week 5, Saturday October 2nd, 12:00PM Eastern Death Valley Clemson, S.C.
By Jay Horne, Professional Sports Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Mia -3.5/Clem +3.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
There is a big battle on the horizon down in the upstate of South Carolina when the Clemson Tigers host the no. 16 ranked Miami Hurricanes this Saturday in Death Valley. Despite being so early in the season, this game holds big implications on both team’s fight to get to an ACC Championship. Clemson got to the big game a year ago but were defeated by Georgia Tech in the title game. The Tigers now have another talented group poised to make a charge in the ACC yet again. Clemson had the week off to prepare for their big game with the Hurricanes and will look for that to hold an advantage when the two take the field early Saturday.
The Canes also had a bit more time to prepare for their meeting with the Tigers. The Hurricanes took the national stage against Pittsburgh last Thursday night throttling the Panthers 31-3 to makeup for the embarrassing loss to Ohio State the week before. The Hurricanes got things done on the defensive side of the ball where their defensive front stayed in the Pittsburgh backfield all night. The defense recorded 5 sacks against the Panthers while forcing 3 turnovers as well. Miami will need that type of defensive effort especially up front when they battle with a strong Clemson rushing attack this weekend.
Clemson was defeated 27-24 in overtime against then no. 16 ranked Auburn in their last outing. The defeat left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Clemson players as they felt it was a game that was lost after leading 17-3 at the half. On top of that Clemson had missed opportunities in overtime including a missed field goal that led to their demise over the Tigers from the SEC. However even after the loss, Clemson still has some things to feel good about.
The Tigers were very physical against Auburn and moved the ball on the ground despite Auburn have an extremely strong rush defense. Running backs Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington are a talented duo that will give the Miami defense different looks in the backfield. Ellington is the quicker back that can bust through holes and make guys miss in the opening field. Harper is more of a bruising back that is tough to bring down. Ellington has been exception on the season averaging 7.6 yards per carry with 4 touchdowns and will likely see a ton of touches this Saturday. It will be interesting to see if Clemson can get that same type of rushing success against the Miami defensive front as they did against Auburn.
Clemson QB Kyle Parker was banged up in the loss against Auburn, but should be a full go this Saturday. Parker’s numbers have not been extremely impressive this season completing just 59% passing for 510 yards, 6 scores, and 1 pick. However, Parker is still a very solid quarterback who can make strong throws down the field. Possibly the bigger concern for the Clemson passing offense is that they have yet to find a guy to step up at the wide receiver position. Tight end Dwayne Allen leads receiving efforts with 8 catches for 156 yards, but he is the only guy over 100 receiving yards on the season. The “true” wide outs have failed to produce and that is something that will have to change if Clemson is going to be most effective on the offensive side of the ball.
Speaking of passing offenses, Miami may just have the best passing offense in the ACC. QB Jacory Harris has been praised as one of the top passers in the nation. Harris has thrown for nearly 700 yards while completing 64% of his passes in just 3 games this season. However, Harris 6 touchdowns on the season have been matched by 6 interceptions. The consistency issues have always surrounded the Miami sophomore quarterback and they are still lingering through the first part of 2010. Still, Miami has some playmakers on the outside. WR Leonard Hankerson leads the team with 16 catches for 241 yards while Travis Benjamin has contributed with 10 catches for 158 yards. Both guys have gifted speed and can make big things happen. So it will be interesting to see how the Clemson secondary holds up against the most talented passing offense they have seen to date this season.
Also, the Hurricanes offense is not shy to running the football as well. Despite their passing reputation, the Hurricanes like to run the ball. Running back Damien Barry has 226 yards on the season on just 43 carries. Backup tailback Lamar Miller has also contributed with limited touches this year averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Miami tends to mix in the run just to keep defenses guessing, but I really do not expect much running this weekend. The reason is simple. Clemson is strong on the defensive front and Miami will move the ball through the air. Once that is realized, I expect Miami to keep testing the Tigers secondary.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Coming into the year Clemson’s main concerns were on the defensive side of the ball mainly in their secondary. So far Clemson ranks 86th in total defense giving up 388 yards per game and they have only played 1 team of even respectable relevance. The Tigers secondary has yet to be tested as they were tested mildly against a mainly rushing offense from Auburn. I believe that Clemson’s main weakness which is their secondary will be exposed this weekend leading to another big win for Miami. Take the Hurricanes -3.5.
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