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Miami Hurricanes 2020 Game Preview: Clemson Tigers

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In week four, Miami faces powerhouse Clemson for the first time since the 2017 ACC Championship

ACC Football Championship - Clemson v Miami Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

In week-four, the Miami Hurricanes will face their toughest test of the regular season, when they travel to South Carolina on October 10th, to face Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers.

The last time these two teams met was in the 2017 ACC Championship Game, where the Tigers won convincingly, 38-3.

We all know about Clemson, and the powerhouse of a program they are, and it’s been incredible to see how Swinney has turned this team around from when he arrived. Since 2015, the Tigers have appeared in the College Football Playoff each season, and won national championships in 2016 and 2018.

Clemson Offense

The Tigers offense begins with junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence, arguably the best QB in college football, and who will most likely be selected first in next years NFL Draft. Over the final eight games of the 2019 season, Lawrence threw 22 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He’s been an elite talent from the time he stepped on campus.

Not only do the Tigers have the best quarterback in the nation, but Travis Etienne very well may be the best running back in all of college football as well. In 2019, Etienne had 1,614 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns, while also being a threat in the passing game, with 37 catches for 432 yards and 4 receiving touchdowns.

Tee Higgins has moved on to the NFL, and Justyn Ross was lost for the year due to injury, but the Tigers still have options at wide receiver. Amari Rodgers is expected to the main target, and was an All-ACC honorable mention in 2019. Clemson also has Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson Jr. as valuable pass catchers.

The offensive line is going to be the biggest question mark on offense for the Tigers, as Clemson lost 4 starters from the 2019 season. At left tackle, junior Jackson Carman is the Tigers most experienced player on the o-line. The rest of the offensive line is projected as followed: LG Matt Bockhorst, C Cade Stewart, RG Will Putnam, RT Jordan McFadden.

Clemson Defense

While the defensive line was looked at as a liability in 2019, they serve as one of the strong points for Clemson in 2020. K.J. Henry will be at strong side defensive end, in place for Xavier Thomas, who decided to opt for this season. The other DE will most likely be Justin Foster, who’s dominant against the run.

In the middle, the Tigers return Tyler Davis and Nyles Pinckney. Davis was a freshman All-American in 2019, collecting 6.5 sacks and 10 TFLs. Davis was named preseason first-team All-ACC by Sports Illustrated.

At linebacker, Mike Jones Jr. will look to replace Isaiah Simmons at outside linebacker, and Baylon Spector will be the other LB on the outside. At MLB, James Skalski is back as the Tigers only returning starter at linebacker.

Moving on to the secondary, Clemson will have senior Nolan Turner, who is the most experienced safety on the roster. The other safety spot is up for grabs between Lannden Zanders, Jalyn Phillips and freshman Ray Thorton III.

Derion Kendrick will secure one of the cornerback spots, and Mario Goodrich is expected to start opposite of him. Andrew Booth Jr. and Sheridan Jones will also see playing time at corner.

Prediction

This is Clemson, one of the premiere programs in college football, so I don't have to go to in depth when talking about them, and I'm not going to sit here and predict that Miami will go into Death Valley and steal a victory. With D’Eriq King at quarterback, I think the Hurricanes can definitely make it a close contest, but I think the Tigers will pull away in the fourth quarter and win by 10-14 points.

This matchup will be a measuring stick for Manny Diaz and the Hurricanes, and we’ll be able to see how close Miami is to the elite of college football, or how far away they are.