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Monday Musings: Canes back at it in Durham

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 29 Miami at Duke Photo by Brian Utesch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a week off, it’s nice to be back with y’all again, free flowing my Canes thoughts from my the recesses of my brain to your computer screens. And there’s been plenty to ponder the last few weeks. It was hard to imagine the Canes walking off the field victorious, winners of four straight, streaking in the right direction, only to be sidelined by the virus that has shelved over a 100 games so far this year.

1) That’s the thing I noticed the most over the past few weeks - just how much Miami football means to me. I didn’t get a chance to write much last week due to the holiday, so I wasn’t able to add my piece on how much I appreciate Miami football and its importance in my life during the fall. Yes, it’s sports, and yes sports don’t mean as much as family, work, and other aspects of our lives, but that doesn’t mean it still holds a significant level of importance. Flying the U on my car and my house on Fridays and gamedays. Firing up the smoker and getting a pork butt simmering while settling in to watch College Gameday set the mood for the day. The comfort and joy of simply watching Miami play. Texting my friends after every score, or after a bonehead play. It’s all things that - unbeknownst to me - really mattered more than I gave them credit for. It’s been my happy place, my place to help escape from the negativity and problems of our country and the trickle down effect its had on me and many other Americans.

Miami football in 2020 has been a blessing. Thanks to all of you associated with the UM football program for your hard work and excellent play on the field this year.

To Manny Diaz and the unnamed players and/or staffers with this virus, may your illness and discomfort be mild and you get past it very shortly, if you haven’t already. Prayers up and good thoughts and positive vibes to all of you.

And thank all of you for reading and following along with us here at State of the U. We appreciate you all very much.

2) That all being said, Miami is back on the field this Saturday night against Duke, and that should hopefully be a sight to see. Will get into the preview in a bit, but as far as the opponent to replace Wake Forest, there was a good bit of discussion on Twitter and elsewhere this past weekend about who Miami should replace Wake with. BYU’s offensive line coach tweeted at Diaz after the Wake-Miami cancellation was announced, and that speculation started to get legs amount both fan bases. Ultimately, with the ACC’s mandated one out of conference game per year - along with an ever-growing number of COVID cases and canceled games - going out of conference (and especially out of region) made very little sense, at least for Miami. It made all of the sense in the world for BYU. I get that. Their schedule makes Charmin look hard, and a win over a top 10 team would be a massive feather in their cap to boost them up towards New Years Six-ville in the CFP rankings. In the end, the ACC put Duke and Miami together after their opponents couldn’t go because of COVID, and I think that was the right move.

3) So what are Miami’s goals now, as November comes to a close? For me, it’s 10-1 or bust. Miami has a 2019 revenge tour in its final 3 games against Duke, UNC, and Georgia Tech. From what they’ve shown this year, Duke and Georgia Tech are two of the four or five worst teams in the conference, and the one road game is against the worst of the three - Duke. UNC is obviously going to be a battle. Sam Howell is going to be a challenge for our defense, although UNC has been....not good on the road this year, and Miami has been solid at home. However, as far as just an opportunity, it couldn’t possibly line up better for UM to get to win number 10 for just the second time in 17 years (*knocks on wood*). I mean, that would be a huge step forward for the program, in my eyes. Massive. Forget having Clemson or Notre Dame lose, or somehow not qualify for the ACC championship game. That doesn’t really matter to us right now. Or shouldn’t. A 10-1 season is the goal. That’s the brass ring. That earns a sure fire trip to the Orange Bowl and a chance at a Top 5 finish. That would be something worth celebrating. We would’ve done everything short of selling our souls back in January for that situation.

4) Prediction: Miami - Duke. Despite Miami’s penchant for nail-biting games this season, this one shouldn’t be close. Yes, we’ve lost two straight to them, but Miami’s offense has hit another gear this year, as we’ve seen. Conversely, Duke can’t stop turning the ball over. They lead the NCAA in turnovers and coughed up the ball five times last week in a blowout loss to Georgia Tech. Miami hasn’t broken out the turnover chain as much this year as in prior years, but it should be making a regular appearance on Saturday night, with Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche ready (hopefully, depending on COVID results/availability) to feast on Duke QB Chase Brice.

Offensively, Miami should be able to do what UNC and Georgia Tech have done in Duke’s last two games- pound the football. UNC ran for 338 yards and Georgia Tech rumbled for 377. Yo. Finally, Miami’s offensive line should be able to control the line of scrimmage (words that have not been written enough this year about Miami’s front), and Miami’s three-headed rushing attack (although I guess I should say four-headed with D’Eriq King) should have a Louisville-esque type of performance. Miami 47, Duke 23.