First on tonight’s docket is a matchup between the cream of the SEC crop. Top teams Clemson and Miami face off for the first time with playoff hopes on the line. We may be early in conference play, but the stakes are high every single week with playoff seeding and bye weeks up for grabs. With both teams coming off close games in week four, this one is sure to live up to expectations as a thriller. Miami looks to their high-powered passing attack to fuel them to their fourth straight victory while Clemson plans on their top tier defense shutting down the Hurricane’s attack. If you’ve ever wondered who would win in a battle between a large cat and a natural disaster, tonight is the perfect night to tune in and solve that question.
The Clemson offense is right up there in the top 8, bunched up around 35 points per game with teams like Washington, Auburn, and Ohio State. Senior Quarterback Javon Mack is having yet another solid season to the tune of 904 passing yards and absolutely no interceptions on the season. The only issue for him has been sacks, with him hitting the ground 12 times so far. His top target ARIII is still turning up big when he gets the targets, but the team needs to get him more involved if they want to win tonight. Other key players include HB Mike Chadwick, a versatile all-around back that has ravaged opposing defenses this season. WR duo Jay Moe and Keith Blazer have also made a huge impact on this offense by being reliable targets. This offense is very balanced and will challenge Miami to the max.
This is where Clemson earns their scholarship money. The Tigers have a defense that is number 4 in points against and first downs against, third in yards allowed, and second in rushing yards allowed. For a team that doesn’t generate a ton of pressure, Mike Miller is in the backfield constantly. His ability to destroy double teams and clear out space for other players is huge. Speaking of huge, these linebackers look like they should be playing on Sundays already. Both Kobe King and Jack Tyler bring the pain with every hit they connect on. If you get by them, Barry Allen is right there to take the ball away from you. This is a very difficult unit to beat, and one that every offensive coordinator is afraid to game plan against.
While Miami is known for their air raid style offense, expect a more balanced look this week from the Hurricanes. With under 10 carries a game, Speedy Love has posted a solid 5.6 YPC average. A little more usage could catch this tough Clemson defense off guard and cheat out a few extra first downs. But as always, this offense runs right through Jose Bueno. Jose’s season has been very impressive thus far, even when accounting for his 24 sacks in four games. Completing nearly 77% of your passes is a near impossible stat, but somehow, he is doing it with a 7.5-yard average. Give some credit to the studs on the outside, Maximillian Mack and Nick Bragg, for being consistant pass catchers who get open constantly regardless of their coverage. King Twixx in the slot is scary considering he would be a #1 WR on a few teams. This offense is full of threats. If anyone can pass on Clemson, it’s going to be this team.
Offense is the calling card for Miami, but their defense is solidly in the middle of the pack at the midway point of the season. Their one key statistic that has led to success so far is their ability to slow offenses down and hold them to limited first downs. They also have the #1 pass defense in the country, something that is shocking considering they haven’t got a single takeaway this season. In fact, their 6 sacks are the second lowest mark in the league. Alex Dawson has had some issues with production so far, but Buster Bates is performing as expected with 26 tackles so far. Jalen Davis and LaQuarius David are key secondary pieces that keep those insane pass defense stats alive. Throw in Jesse Horrigan and Justin Thyme for a strong defensive presence. Miami is a slightly above average defense capable of stepping up in big situations.
Clemson MLB Kobe King vs Miami QB Jose Bueno
When it comes to big time matchups, both players show up big every time. Kobe King is the, well, king, of tackles with nearly 10 a game. Him and do it all QB Joe Bueno should smack helmets every other play with how the Miami offense plays. But Jose is no slouch himself. Again, 77% completion is unheard of in our league. Kobe can make a direct impact on this with his cover skills as well as his ability to get pressure. Keep your eyes on the middle of the field even when Miami goes to air it out.
Look for Clemson to stay undefeated tonight. They have a talent advantage as well as an AD with more game planning experience, two main factors in winning ballgames. Miami’s only chance is to get their first turnover and keep the momentum from it throughout the game. Bueno needs to be lights out, but the defense will need to step up for the Hurricanes immediately. Still, it’s hard for me to see Clemson dropping this even on the road
Clemson 34, Miami 17