The month of October was was going to tell the true tale of what this Miami team was made of. They were scheduled to play five games in five consecutive weeks, with four being conference opponents. The first game of the month was not one an easy one, but certainly a winnable game for Miami.
In October, Miami was slated to play Thursday night at Cincinnati, primetime at then-No. 12 Florida St., vs. Virginia Tech, vs. No. 5 Clemson, and at No. 25 Duke. After two October games, Miami is 0-2, losing to Cincinnati 34-23 and FSU 29-24.
After two tough losses on the road, Miami will be able to regroup at home with a certainly winnable game coming up against Virginia Tech. VT (3-3, 1-1 ACC) is currently ranked fourth in the Coastal Division, one spot ahead of Miami. VT is being led by backup QB Brenden Motley, who is filling in for incumbent starter Michael Brewer. Brewer injured his non-throwing shoulder against No. 1 Ohio St. in their regular season opener. Motley, a junior, 1019 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions on the year. His 10 passing touchdowns rank second in the ACC, behind Clemson's Deshaun Watson, who has thrown 11 touchdowns. VT also has the conference's best statistical receiver in Florida native Isaiah Ford. Ford leads the ACC with six touchdowns and 421 receiving yards, and is fifth with 28 receptions. Although VT is a very beatable opponent, do not underestimate this team. Miami will have their hands full and will have to take care of business on Saturday.
After Virginia Tech, Miami will play their fourth game of the month at home against the No. 5 Clemson Tigers on Oct. 24th. This can go without being stated, but the Canes will certainly have to bring their A-game to avoid disaster against the Tigers. Clemson (5-0, 2-2) is likely to pick up a win against Boston College this weekend at home, so Miami will be looking forward to facing an undefeated Clemson team who is fighting for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Miami will be lining up against all-world talent and QB Deshaun Watson. Watson has thrown for 990 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. Watson is also a dual-threat QB who can hurt teams with his legs as well. He typically doesn't put up gaudy rushing numbers, but that does not mean he won't burn a defense with them; think FSU QB Everett Golson this season. Miami is expected to have a tough time defending this dangerous Clemson offense, as well as struggle to generate offense against a usually aggressive Clemson defense. Clemson is good, Miami is still trying to put everything together, but we'll see how that game turns out.
Miami's final game of this treacherous month will played at No. 25 Duke on Oct. 31st. This may be the Canes' most important game in deciding who represents the Coastal in the ACC Championship game. Duke (5-1, 2-0) cannot be overlooked as they have been in the past. Although Duke has won five games this season, they haven't quite played the most brutal schedule. Notable games for the Blue Devils include a home loss vs. then-No.23 Northwestern, and a win at home against Georgia Tech. Duke has a bye this weekend, followed by a trip to Virginia Tech before taking on the Canes.
A promising stat for the Blue Devils comes on the defensive side of the football, with their defense only giving up 9.3 points per game. They are middle-of-the-pack offensively, but the guy to keep an eye on is QB Thomas Sirk, who has thrown for 1,260 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He is also the team's leading rusher with 325 yards on the ground to go along with two scores. But the player that is the star of this Blue Devil team is safety Jeremy Cash. The redshirt senior is a Miami native and former transfer from Ohio St. Cash has recorded 38 tackles in the five games he has played in. He tends to make his presence felt during big games, totaling 11 and 12 tackles against Northwestern and Georgia Tech, respectively. Duke is a team that Miami has struggled against in the previous three seasons they have face each other, but does hold a 2-1 record in that time frame. Miami vs. Duke should be the game that decides the Coastal, however, North Carolina and Pittsburgh will have something to say about that. The Coastal is as unpredictable as ever, with the winner usually holding on by a single and postseason-deciding game.
October has started off rough, to say the least. The Canes lost two very winnable games, but came up short in both. The first game Miami played flat and got embarrassed. Last weekend's game, Miami played well enough to win, but didn't defend against Dalvin Cook and the FSU rushing attack. Moving forward is what they have to do. Al Golden constantly uses that phrase, but it is the truth. Miami has to move forward and focus on beating Virginia Tech. Getting a win next weekend will help boost confidence and morale within the locker room, and Miami can come out of October with a couple Ws. With the exception of Clemson, every one of these teams remaining on the schedule are beatable teams...it just depends on which Miami team shows up.