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Miami Hurricanes 2020 Game Preview: Wake Forest

Miami will look to improve upon its 3-5 ACC road record the past two seasons in its first ACC road game of 2020

Virginia v Miami
Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz has never coached against Wake Forest as a Hurricane but Miami has not lost to the Demon Deacons since 1944.
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

With COVID-19 changing the Fall 2020 college sports landscape more every day, it is a mystery at this point what exactly the 2020 Miami Hurricanes football schedule will look like.

As of today, Miami is scheduled to play its first ACC road game against Wake Forest on Friday, October 9 in Winston-Salem in what likely would be a nationally-televised night game.

Miami has struggled in ACC road games during the past two seasons as the Hurricanes went just 3-5 on the road in ACC play in the 2018 and 2019 campaigns.

Miami has never lost to Wake Forest in the modern era of college football, compiling a 7-0 record against the Demon Deacons. The last meeting between the teams came in 2013 when the Hurricanes topped Wake Forest 24-21 in South Florida thanks to a go-ahead touchdown run by Duke Johnson with less than one minute to play.

The Demon Deacons had one of their best seasons in recent memory in 2019 as they were 8-5 with an electric offense. Wake started the season 5-0, including a win over rival North Carolina, before losing a heartbreaking 62-59 game to Louisville that started a 3-5 stretch to end the season.

One positive for the Hurricanes in this matchup came when Wake quarterback Jamie Newman elected to transfer to Georgia in January for his final year of eligibility. Newman accounted for 34 touchdowns last season (28 passing, six rushing) in leading an offense that ranked No.15 in the NCAA in total offense.

He will likely be replaced with Sam Hartman, who many remember from being featured on season two of Netflix’s QB1: Beyond The Lights. Hartman has passed for 2,814 yards and 20 touchdowns in 13 games for Wake Forest but has managed just a 55.7 completion percentage in those contests.

For a detailed look at what to expect from Wake Forest in this game, check out Justin Dottavio’s piece on Wake Forest’s scheme.

What might be Wake Forest’s biggest weakness on defense may play into Miami’s new strength on offense under new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.

The Demon Deacons are replacing cornerbacks Essang Bassey and Amari Henderson, who combined to make 82 starts in their Wake Forest careers.

The Hurricanes will look to use their depth at the wide receiver position and tight ends Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory to attack Wake’s new starting corners.

On defense, it will be no secret that Manny Diaz and defensive coordinator Blake Baker will try to pressure Hartman in the pocket.

Wake Forest allowed only 23 sacks in 13 games last season but the Demon Deacons are replacing three starters from that unit.

Wake’s offensive line will be tasked with blocking Gregory Rousseau and Quincy Roche from the defensive end position. Rousseau led Miami with 15.5 sacks in 2019 while Roche led Temple with 13 sacks.

Most college football oddsmakers have not yet posted a betting line on this game but has Miami listed as 14-point favorite on the road in this contest.

If the consensus line is close to that number, this is a game that Miami must win. Losing to Wake Forest for the first time in the modern era as a double-digit favorite would not be acceptable for Diaz after Miami’s 6-7 season during his first year as head coach.