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Matchup of the Week: Duke Edition

Miami is set to face their conference and Coastal Division foe, No. 22 Duke, in Durham, N.C. on Saturday night.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Man...this has been one hell of a week for the Canes. First, Miami suffered their worse loss in program history. One day after that performance, Miami fired head coach Al Golden midway through the season. Then, on Tuesday, tragedy struck the Hurricanes community as junior CB Artie Burns' mother passed away. And to top everything off, senior DT Michael Wyche was arrested Wednesday on assault charges.

Oh...and QB Brad Kaaya is not expected to play Saturday due to a concussion suffered against Clemson.

Miami has been in the news ever since they took the field against Clemson, and seems like everything wants to happen at once to this program.


Miami (4-3, 1-2 ACC) is traveling north to play at No. 22 Duke (6-1, 3-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday. Miami still have five games left in the regular season and still has a shot, though narrowing, to win the Coastal. This game is of the utmost importance in regards of the Canes' postseason future. It will be difficult, but Miami HAS to move on, focus on Duke, and win. Let's take a look at what happened last time these teams played.

Last season, Miami handed Duke their first regular season and conference loss of the season, and is in position to hand the Dukies their first ACC loss of 2015.

Miami Offense vs. Duke Defense

This feels like the obvious pick because, well, it is.

Miami is coming off of a very fresh performance of scoring a whopping ZERO points against Clemson. It was bad. Miami was never able to get ANYTHING going, and Brad Kaaya suffering a concussion did not make things any better. Miami only had146 yards TOTAL! FOR THE ENTIRE GAME! Kaaya was 6/10 for 51 yards and an interception before he got hurt. Malik Rosier then entered the game and went a painful 7/22 for 42 yards and two interceptions, with one being returned for a touchdown. Joe Yearby also gained 42 yards on the ground on just 13 carries.

With Kaaya likely out and Rosier calling the shots, expect the Canes' offense to take a step back and look rather pedestrian. Especially since Duke is only allowing 151 yards through the air. If the offensive line can open holes (which they haven't done all season), then Miami can make this a football game. In the past three seasons, Miami is 2-1 vs. Duke, and each of the games they won were due to Miami's success on the ground (see Duke Johnson).

Duke, on the other hand, is one of the best defenses in the country; statistically, that is. The Blue Devils' 14.1 points per game allowed is good for sixth in the country and are ranked No. 10 nationally in yards allowed, only surrendering 281 per game. Granted, Miami has faced far better competition than Duke. Most would be willing to bet that Miami could exceed that number, but only if Brad Kaaya was healthy and able to play.

Their defense is led by All-American safety Jeremy Cash, who does everything for that team. The Ohio State transfer and Miami native currently has 57 tackles, 14(!!!) tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and three forced fumbles on the season. He is as good as advertised. DO NOT make any mistake in his direction, or he will make you pay.


Under the new interim head coach Larry Scott, there is uncertainty of what the game plan will be. Will he become more aggressive defensively? Will the offensive scheme change? All of that remains to be seen. What Miami cannot do is lay an egg like they did last week against Clemson. Duke doesn't have the talent nor personnel to do what Clemson did last week, but when Miami plays bad football, they play BAD football.

There will be a lot of emotion in Saturday's game. The players will want to play hard and prove it wasn't Golden's fault, they will want to rally behind Coach Scott, and they will want to play for their brother, Artie Burns, who lost his mother earlier this week. Miami can win this game, but will they? I just don't see it without Brad Kaaya. Canes-13, Duke-28 =/...