Written By: Ryan Lippert|@Lippert42
As we roll into the month of October, we are starting to see another exciting college football season unravel. Just like the past few weeks, this week has several very intriguing games to keep an eye on. After focusing on the SEC the past couple weeks, this week’s best game features two top ten programs out of the ACC. The top-ranked team in the nation, the Clemson Tigers are looking to continue their dominance and make another run at the College Football Playoff. They have their toughest task so far this season as a promising seventh-ranked Miami team will be looking to come in and pull off the upset. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s College Football Game of the Week between the Clemson Tigers and Miami Hurricanes.
Trevor Lawrence Looks to Finally Take Home the Heisman
As has been the case the past couple seasons, much of Clemson’s success has revolved around their star quarterback, Trevor Lawrence. He is off to yet another hot start to the 2020 season as he has thrown for 848 yards, seven touchdowns, and zero interceptions so far. After the loss of star receiver Justyn Ross before the season started, senior Amari Rodgers has become the top target for the Tigers with 12 receptions for 206 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore Frank Ladson Jr. has also established a role with nine receptions for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
He will be facing a Miami secondary that has allowed 230.33 yards per game through the air and five touchdowns while coming away with four interceptions. Their secondary is led by two talented junior cornerbacks, DJ Ivey and Al Blades Jr., who are both trying to establish themselves as NFL prospects. Joining them in the secondary are Bubba Bolden and Gurvan Hall Jr. at the safeties. Blades currently leads the team with two interceptions.
Luckily for Lawrence, he also has a very talented run game to back him up. The Tigers’ rushing attack is led by arguably the most talented back in college football in Travis Etienne. After deciding to come back for another year, Etienne has performed very well so far running the ball 39 times for 247 yards and two touchdowns.
Etienne will be matched up with a Miami front seven who lost their best piece in Gregory Rousseau as he chose to opt-out of the season. However, this group still has some talent. They have allowed 146.67 yards per game on the ground but only two rushing touchdowns so far. This group is led by graduate transfer defensive end Quincy Roche, who looks to be a top-level prospect himself. Joining him on the line will be Jaelan Phillips at the other end along with Jonathan Ford and Nesta Jade Silvera at the tackles. Behind them at the linebacker spots will be Bradley Jennings Jr in the middle with Gilbert Frierson and Zach McCloud on the outside.
Can D’Eriq King Win the Quarterback Battle?
The story of the Miami offense the past couple of seasons has been that they have talented skill players but no quarterback to lead them. That all has changed this season after former Houston quarterback D'Eriq King decided to transfer to the Hurricanes. He has put on a Heisman campaign so far this season himself, throwing for 736 yards with six touchdowns and zero interceptions. King is also the team’s second-leading rusher with 28 carries for 157 yards and a touchdown. In the passing game, he has benefited from a strong year from star tight end Brevin Jordan, who is their leading receiver with 15 receptions for 212 yards and three touchdowns. He will also hope to get solid production out of receivers Mark Pope, Michael Harley, and Dee Wiggins who have all contributed so far this season.
He will be up against a Clemson defense that hasn’t been bad against the pass this season. Their secondary has allowed 213 yards per game through the air and four touchdowns while coming away with two interceptions. They are led by junior cornerback Derion Kendrick who is looking to be the top corner this season and make his mark as an NFL prospect. He will be joined by sophomore Sheridan Jones at the other corner with Lannden Zanders and Nolan Turner at the safeties.
In the run game, obviously, King provides a true dual-threat option but he has also got some help out of the backfield. Junior running back Cam’Ron Harris has been the Hurricanes leading rusher so far with 38 carries for 311 yards and five touchdowns. Freshmen Donald Chaney Jr. and Jaylan Knighton will also see some carries.
They will be facing a Tigers’ front seven that has been very impressive against the run this year. Their defense is allowing 90 yards per game on the ground and hasn’t given up a single rushing touchdown. They have a solid mix of young and veteran talent upfront with seniors Justin Foster and Nyles Pinckney at one defensive end and tackle spot with sophomores K.J. Henry and Tyler Davis joining them. Junior Jordan Williams and true freshman phenom Bryan Breese will also see time in the rotation. Behind them in the linebacker core, senior James Skalski is in the middle with Mike Jones Jr. and Baylon Spector on the outside.
This Saturday night matchup looks to be a very exciting one. On one end, you have the first big test for the top-ranked Tigers but you also have an opportunity to see how this talented Miami team stacks up against the elite competition. The quarterback battle between Lawrence and King will be must-see television. I see King making plays to keep Miami in this game through about three quarters. However, I’m not ready to put Clemson on upset alert just yet as they are simply the more talented team. I have the Tigers holding on to win this one 31-21.