Happy Halloween Hurricane nation!
UM has made it into the second bye week of 2020, sitting at 5-1 and 4-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Fans can take the holiday weekend and leave behind the stress of close conference games, in the midst of a very high-strung week for the country as a whole.
It’s understandable that people are experiencing a general feeling of angst. We all love Miami football, but perhaps this is a great time for an off week, allowing us to simply unwind, sit back and just watch football on a Saturday.
If you tune into any ACC contests this week, here is who you should consider rooting for.
Saturday, October 3
Boston College Golden Eagles (4-2, 3-2 ACC) @ No. 1 Clemson Tigers (6-0, 5-0 ACC) 12:00 P.M., ABC
The absolute storyline here is Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s positive COVID-19 test. No player in the game today is as big of a face as Lawrence, and his absence will be felt for the Tigers. Last week, Dabo Swinney’s team pulled away late to take down Syracuse 47-21, but the result wasn't a sure thing even well into the third quarter.
Backup QB D.J. Uiagalelei is expected to get the start Saturday, with Lawrence out indefinitely. The former 5-star recruit is a true freshman, seeing action late in five Tiger blowouts this season. Still, this will be his first time thrown into major action, so it’ll be a very intriguing watch.
Boston College has been more that competitive in games under first-year head coach Jeff Hafley. This could be a game for most of the full 60 minutes, depending on how the Eagle defense plays against Uiagalelei. Don’t count on an upset happening, but root for the Eagles to keep it as close for as long as possible, just for fun.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-2, 2-2 ACC) @ Syracuse Orange (1-5, 1-4 ACC), 12:00 P.M., ACC Network
To say that Syracuse is not where they want to be is an understatement. They kept it close at Clemson beyond halftime, but the Orange remain one of the few teams that lost to its designated non-conference opponent when falling to Liberty. Dino Babers’ team needs wins. Moral victories won’t cut it.
Wake Forest—like Syracuse—is a program with conference middle-class aspirations. Unlike the Orange in 2020, they are playing the part. They opened with losses to Clemson and North Carolina State, but have won three straight after beating then-No. 19 Virginia Tech.
This contest shouldn't be a factor in the ACC Championship race. If any Canes fan is watching this noon kickoff, all one can hope for is a close matchup.
No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-0, 4-0 ACC) @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-4, 2-3 ACC), 3:30 P.M., ABC
Notre Dame was pushed to the edge in Week 6 against Louisville. But they handled Pittsburgh in Week 7 without any issues.
We don't know which Irish team we’ll get at Georgia Tech. The Jackets are still in transition from the triple-option to a more modern spread look. Quarterback Jeff Sims has thrown 10 interceptions compared to just eight touchdowns, and that partially explains GT’s losing record so far.
All UM fans need to know in this one is that although ND will enter as a big favorite, they need to be rooted against like no other team in the league at this point (sans maybe FSU). The Hurricanes don't play the Irish in 2020 (thanks, ACC), so they won’t get a chance to break any ties on the field. This means that until the Irish lose, even if Miami goes undefeated the rest of the season, the Canes don't yet control their own destiny.
Virginia Tech Hokies (3-2, 3-2 ACC) @ Louisville Cardinals (2-4, 1-4 ACC), 4:00 P.M., ACC Network
Virginia Tech started 2-0, and were ranked as high as No. 18 nationally. But they sit outside the top 25 again after falling in two of their last three games, including a decision at Wake Forest a week ago.
Meanwhile, Louisville may be the best 2-4 team in recent ACC history. Their QB/WR combo in Malik Cunningham/Tutu Atwell is among the most prolific nationwide, and their quick strike offense is a threat to almost any defense. They blew out FSU in Week 7.
Both teams have multiple conference losses, so this contest won’t likely have conference title game implications. However, VT is a longtime rival of UM’s and Louisville is a fun watch. Root for the Cardinals to win and make Miami’s second win look just a bit better.
Charlotte 49ers (2-2, 2-2 C-USA) @ Duke Blue Devils (1-5, 1-5 ACC), 7:00 P.M., ESPN3
It’s not been a 2020 to remember for Duke. They sit at 1-5, and they’re in danger of missing a bowl game for the second year in a row—a rarity under head coach David Cutcliffe.
However, this may be the kind of game to get some positive momentum restarted. They’ll invite UNC-Charlotte up to the Research Triangle for their sole non-conference game.
From a Miami perspective, there isn't much to say about this game that won't count in the ACC standings. If you like upsets, pull for the 49ers. If you prefer the ACC’s overall strength to be maximized, root for Duke to hold serve.
No. 15 North Carolina Tar Heels (4-1, 4-1 ACC) @ Virginia Cavaliers (1-4, 1-4 ACC), 8:00 P.M., ACC Network
The Canes took care of Virginia last week in a close, ugly game. But UM did win. The main goal of the win was to continue to stay alive in the hunt to make the ACC title game, and this matchup is no different.
One, a UVA win makes last week’s victory look better. Two, UNC is one of two major threats standing in the way of a rematch with Clemson. Already having suffered a loss, another Carolina setback could derail any hopes of a Tar Heels-Tigers showdown in the Queen City. If you watch this game, root hard for the Cavaliers.
That’s it for Week 8! Make sure to take some deep breathes, enjoy the week of football, and stay sane in this insane period. Week 9 will soon be upon us as UM travels to NC State, looking to continue their road to Charlotte.