Miami Football at Clemson biggest since 2017 ACC Championship Game

Dec 2, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports /

The seventh-ranked Miami Football team will travel to top-ranked Clemson on Saturday in the biggest game for the Hurricanes since they lost to the Tigers in the 2017 ACC Championship Game.

The Miami football team will play its biggest game since the 2017 ACC Championship Game when it travels to top-ranked Clemson on Saturday. The seventh-ranked Hurricanes and top-ranked Tigers held the exact same rankings when they played for the ACC title in Charlotte three years ago.

Miami entered the ACC Championship Game 10-1 and was as high as second in the College Football Playoff rankings before being upset in the final regular-season game at Pittsburgh. Clemson was the top-ranked team in the country with their only blemish a 27-24 loss at Syracuse when starting QB Kelly Bryant was injured.

Miami enters their game against Clemson in a much better situation than they were in 2017. Top players to begin the season, running back Mark Walton, wide receiver Ahmmon Richards and tight end Chris Herndon were all out with season-ending injuries for the ACC Championship Game.

Entering this year’s game, the Hurricanes have a much more dynamic offense. Mark Richt ran the now antiquated in college, pro-style offense. New offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and the addition of quarterback D’Eriq King have transformed the Miami offense. The uptempo spread Lashlee runs has been explosive.

Miami ranks fifth nationally with 53 plays of 10 yards or more entering Saturday’s games. The Hurricanes are in the top 10 in every 10-yard increment. Miami is tied for first with five plays of 40 yards or more, three plays of 50 yards or more, three of 60 or more and two 70 plus yard plays that were both against Louisville.

Junior running back Cam’Ron Harris is the only player in the country with two plays of over 60 yards this season. Junior tight end Brevin Jordan and freshmen RBs Don Chaney Jr. and Jaylan Knighton are all nationally ranked among the top players producing big plays this season. Miami wasn’t as capable of big plays in 2017.

Miami finished the 2017 season 60th in total offense. The 2017 Hurricanes were led by an aggressive defense. Miami finished fifth nationally in 2017 with 111 tackles for loss and fourth with 44 sacks. The Hurricanes are third this season with 31 TFLs and fifth with 10 sacks entering Saturday’s game.

Clemson is a few spots behind Miami in both categories. The Tigers offense is better than it was in 2017. Trevor Lawrence is a huge upgrade over Bryant. The QB battle on Saturday between King and Lawrence is far more intriguing than it was between Bryant and Miami QB Malik Rosier in 2017.

King and Lawrence could be in Charlotte in December. Both might be Heisman Trophy finalists and make trips to New York for the ceremony or at the very least appear virtually. Miami will be featured on ESPN College Gameday and the ABC Saturday Night Game of the Week for their straight game following this week’s bye.

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Playing a Clemson in a game that was not on the initial schedule is program defining. Miami might get two chances at the Tigers this season if they can finish in the top two of the ACC standings. The Hurricanes’ third straight appearance on national TV will continue to help Manny Diaz rebuild the Miami football brand.