Nov. 5, 3:00, RSN
Here's The Deal … With four games remaining in the regular season, Miami is still not assured of earning a game in the postseason. Ugh! It's been an up-and-down first campaign for head coach Al Golden, whose team put its inconsistency on full display with last Thursday's unacceptable loss to Virginia at home. After playing so well throughout the month of October, including back-to-back wins over North Carolina and Georgia Tech, the work-in-progress ‘Canes ended it by laying an egg in a game they should have won.
After peaking at 3-2 on Oct. 1, Duke has reverted back to familiar form with three straight losses. To the Blue Devils' credit, though, they've fought hard throughout, losing by one point to Wake Forest two weeks ago, and nearly toppling Virginia Tech last Saturday before falling, 14-10. Barring an unexpected about-face, the program will spend its 17th consecutive December without a bowl game.
Why Duke Might Win: As the offense struggles with turnovers and general inefficiency, the defense has actually begun to flex its muscles in Durham. In those close calls with the Demon Deacons and Hokies, the Blue Devils yielded an average of just 17 points. LB Kelby Brown and S Matt Daniels spearhead a feisty, lunch pail crew that'll take aim at a Miami offense that ranks No. 10 overall in the ACC. The Hurricanes are also just 102nd in the country in pass efficiency defense, picking off only four passes all season, which could provide the canvas for QB Sean Renfree and his gifted receivers to get back on track.
Why Miami Might Win: This is the type of game that the Hurricanes should be able to spring their top offensive weapon, RB Lamar Miller. Unusually ineffective over the last three games, the sophomore will find wider holes in a Duke defense that's allowing 4.5 yards a carry, and was just gutted for 243 yards on the ground by RB David Wilson and Virginia Tech. QB Jacory Harris, who's quietly piecing together a solid senior season, will look to pepper the Blue Devils with intermediate and occasional long balls. WR Tommy Streeter is emerging as a big-play superstar on the outside, supercharging a corps of receivers that already includes Travis Benjamin and Allen Hurns.
What To Watch Out For: Who's getting demoted on the Miami two-deep? During the week, Golden was vocal about his team's apathy and general lack of intensity in the loss to Virginia. Some ‘Canes who've been going through the motions are going to pay the price in November with a sharp reduction in playing time. Golden hasn't been specific about his sacrificial lambs, but there's no doubt that he plans to juggle the lineup in search of a spark. The coach is all about sending messages and maximizing his on-hand talent, which didn't happen a week ago.
What Will Happen: Unlike in recent years, when Randy Shannon's ‘Canes started slowly versus Duke, Golden's team will get out of the gates quickly on Saturday. Miami got the message loud and clear at practice this week, and will play with far more urgency and passion than last Thursday. The new starters will work to hold their jobs, while the backups scrap on special teams to impress the staff. Harris will help guide the Hurricanes back over the .500 mark with a pair of touchdown passes, teaming up with Miller to put up more than 400 total yards on the Blue Devils defense.
CFN Prediction: Miami 31 … Duke 17