Bye weeks are typically a beneficial thing for teams, getting necessary rest, tweaking the scheme, working on areas that need fine-tuning, etc. For the ‘Canes, however, it seems to be a break in rhythm—a momentum killer.
This season is a bit different, as Miami faced the Clemson Tigers on the road following their bye week. Death Valley is already one of the toughest places to win in all of college football, but Miami made countless mental errors in that contest, including a defensive offsides penalty on 4th down that gave Clemson a new set of downs, leading to a Tigers’ touchdown on their first drive that the ‘Canes couldn’t overcome. The result of that game obviously wasn’t a fluke, but if Miami didn’t shoot themselves in the foot as much, the final score may have been more respectable than a 42-17 drubbing.
Looking back to 2019, what went wrong in Miami’s losses following bye weeks? If we look at their matchups against North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and FIU, one thing is apparent: the ‘Canes dug themselves holes they couldn’t climb out of. In other words, it took them too long to “wake up.” When they did, they made the game competitive, but it wasn’t enough to steal back a victory. Against North Carolina, the ‘Canes were down 3-17 at the end of the first quarter, against Virginia Tech, 0-21, against FIU, 3-23 in the fourth quarter—all 3 of the contests ended with just a one-possession difference between teams.
Will the same happen on November 6th? NC State is no Clemson, but they’re no pushover either. Following a bye week, even FIU is a formidable opponent for Miami under Diaz, meaning that anything can happen. However, is this Miami team different from 2019’s? Absolutely. Even though they squeaked by Virginia and looked anything but convincing, they didn’t have a hangover following the huge letdown at Clemson. D’Eriq King isn’t the inconsistent Malik Rosier or Jarren Williams, and this offense has, in fact, gotten better since Rhett Lashlee’s arrival.
We already knew, but ACC just announced that Miami at NC State game at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6 (a week from this Friday night) will be broadcast by ESPN. Another late-night game on national TV.— Susan Miller Degnan (@smillerdegnan) October 26, 2020
All that being said, it doesn’t matter how the ‘Canes win—what matters is the victory. Going on the road following a bye week and finally overcoming the mental barrier would be a huge step for Manny Diaz as head coach. Now, a prime time matchup against another in-conference foe would be the perfect time to accomplish the feat, keeping ACC Championship dreams alive.