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Miami Hurricanes Football 2016 Schedule Preview: Duke Blue Devils

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As part of the dwindling off season, State of the U will preview each game on the Canes' schedule. During the season there will be much more in-depth previews the week before each game, but these will serve to get you ready for what is to come.

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

A Rivalry is Born??!!

Duke has one more ACC Coastal Division Championship than UM, so they were already much more on the radar of the 'Canes than perhaps any Miami fan would have ever expected.

Then last year happened.

Artie Burns' mom died.

Al Golden got fired.

Miami Football was in complete disarray......

We needed something, anything to cheer for.

And man oh man did we get it........

A play that will go down in College Football history, not only for its' miraculous nature but also the aftermath.

It was one that brought the team, and the fan base, together.

Not to mention it allowed haters new fodder to openly display their disdain for the Hurricanes (but I won't get into that too much now).

Lost in the shuffle was the fact that Miami was inconspicuously and (at times) erroneously penalized 23 times, and the go ahead TD by Duke was controversial in its' own right.

The ACC suspended the officiating crew after reviewing the final play, but never mentioned anything other than the game winning TD in their reasoning, further aggravating UM supporters everywhere.

Long story short, this series has a whole different feel now.

It will never quite be the same.

Series History:

As you might expect, the 'Canes convincingly lead the all time series 11-2.

Three years ago, the Devils dominated the Hurricanes with their powerful ground game, en route to a surprisingly easy win that helped launch their division title.

But two years ago, UM essentially controlled the action wire to wire, with a TD from freshman QB Brad Kaaya to Herb Waters on a 4th and 19 the key play in a 22-10 win.

Last year of course, was last year.

Players to Watch:

QB Thomas Sirk -  The key will be if Sirk is healthy.  He's missed a lot of action the past two seasons.  He's more accomplished as a runner than a passer, so his recovery from a torn achilles injury bears watching.  At 6'4 220, he's a load with the ball in his hands.   If he isn't 100% Duke's O takes a significant step down with Parket Boehme at the helm.

WR Anthony Nash -  The 6'5 senior to be, presents match-up issues for almost anyone he squares off with.  Last season he hauled in 32 catches for 475 yards, but his number is sure to be called much more often in 2016.

RB Shaun Wilson -  Wilson is just 180 pounds, so he'll have to do his work on the outside.  But  he has excellent speed and averaged over 10 a carry last season, including an 85 yarder Vs Indiana in the Pinstripe Bowl. He'll share the carries with 215 pound senior Jela Duncan.

CB's Byron Fields & DeVon Edwards -  Fields returns after missing all of 2015 due to injury, which should boost a secondary that gave up all kinds of plays last season.  Edwards has plenty of experience opposite him.

Way too early prediction:

In past few years, the Hurricanes less than aggressive approach on defense, and spread heavy formations on O, played to Duke's strengths.

The Devils essentially want to pound the rock and mix in smoke and mirrors to keep you off balance when they have the ball, and make big plays and force turnovers with their 4-2-5 alignment on D.

In 2016, Mark Richt is going to be running a more pro style offense, and Manny Diaz an attacking defense.

This should completely change the dynamic between these two teams.

I don't think the Devils' front 7 has the man power to slow down Mark Walton or Joe Yearby.

That'll open up all kinds of things for Kaaya, Stacy Coley, and David Njoku.

And now that guys like Al-Quadin Muhammad and Chad Thomas will be unleashed bu Diaz, Duke's run centered attack will be under much more stress Vs the 'Canes.

Given what the Blue Devils have accomplished the last few years, I'd hate to underestimate them, but I expect Miami to roll in this one (at home no less) by a score of somewhere around 38-17.

Summary:

What David Cutcliffe has done for Duke Football is akin (but not quite as awesome) as what Jim Larranaga has done for Hurricanes' Hoops.

He's taken a program in the shadow of a much more powerful one at the same school, and made them relevant.

Kudos!

But UM should never, ever lose to Duke.  No disrespect intended.

Man for man, the 'Canes will always have an advantage over the Blue Devils.

Now that they have a coaching staff that matches up well with Cutcliffe's, I expect Miami to roll in this one, and make the series once again one-sided.