Turning the corner and improving on its 6-7 record from 2019 is a priority for the Miami football program.
That starts with playing better in games away from Hard Rock Stadium.
Miami is just 4-6 in its last 10 road games and has lost five ACC road games since the beginning of the 2018 season.
The Hurricanes play five games on the road in 2020, four of which are conference games, and will need to improve on the 2-3 road record that they posted in the 2018 and 2019 campaigns.
Road dates with Michigan State, Wake Forest, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are on this year’s schedule.
Miami’s lack of success on the road proves that all road games can be difficult but the below three road games stand out this season as games that Miami must play its best in to win.
Miami at Michigan State
The Hurricanes travel to East Lansing to play the Spartans on September 26 and this will be Miami’s first test against a power five program in 2020.
Michigan State struggled in 2019 as it finished with a 7-6 record and was under .500 in Big Ten play. The Spartans replaced coach Mark Dantonio, who abruptly resigned, with Mel Tucker in February. Tucker will be tasked with rebuilding the Spartans, who were in the College Football Playoff just five years ago.
The Spartans have a more difficult schedule leading up to both teams’ fourth game of the year.
Michigan State opens with Northwestern then travels to BYU before hosting Toledo the week before playing Miami.
Miami has three home games against non-power five opponents prior to traveling to East Lansing.
Those three home games should give the Hurricanes a chance to get comfortable with new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s offense and with new quarterback D’Eriq King.
Michigan State is a preseason favorite of 2.5 points in this game. Miami earned a pick to win the game from collegefootballnews.com, who declared the game as the 2020 season’s 18th best non-conference game of the year.
The Hurricanes have not beaten a power five non-conference opponent since their 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl victory over West Virginia.
Miami at Virginia
Miami’s last trip to Virginia was the beginning of the end for Mark Richt and the Hurricanes are just 8-12 overall since that game.
Miami totally stalled offensively in Charlottesville in 2018 and lost 16-13 to the Cavaliers, who only managed 235 yards against Miami’s defense. Each team threw three interceptions in that game.
The Hurricanes’ last win on the road against Virginia came in 2016 when Brad Kaaya and Mark Walton led them to victory.
The Cavaliers are replacing the graduated Bryce Perkins at quarterback and had not yet named a starter before COVID-19 cancelled all spring practices for ACC teams.
Virginia will have already played both Clemson and Georgia when the Hurricanes come to town so it will have a familiarity with the physicality Miami’s defense can bring.
Based on preseason projections, the Hurricanes should have a better offense and defense than Virginia. This is the type of game Miami has failed to win in years past that it must win in 2020.
Among the five losses in ACC play on the road since 2018, the Hurricanes were favored in four of those games.
While no line is out for this game yet, Miami could easily be favored in this game based on King leading the offense. Diaz cannot afford to lose another road game that the Hurricanes are favored in.
Miami at Virginia Tech
Winning in Blacksburg is never easy.
But the Hurricanes did top the Hokies 38-14 in their last trip to Blacksburg in 2018. Miami travels back to Blacksburg on November 14, the week after its game with rival Florida State.
The Hurricanes passed for 469 yards against Virginia Tech in 2019 but still lost 42-35 at Hard Rock Stadium as they turned the ball over five times and consistently put the defense in terrible field position.
While Virginia Tech has some changes with its skill positions on offense, the Hokies return their entire offensive from 2019 and athletic quarterback Hendon Hooker.
In his first collegiate start, Hooker passed for three touchdowns and rushed for another against the Hurricanes in 2019.
Chip Patterson of cbssports.com predicts that Virginia Tech will go 10-2, 7-1 in the ACC and beat Miami on November 14. Patterson projected Miami at 9-3 and 5-3 with losses to North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia Tech.
Miami will likely need to win in Blacksburg again this season if it wants to win the ACC Coastal division.
Which road game is Miami’s toughest in 2020?
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