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Clemson Tigers vs. Miami Hurricanes Preview and Prediction


The last time the Miami Hurricanes hosted a top-10 opponent at Sun Life Stadium, things did not go according to plan. In 2014, after leading No. 3 Florida State 23-10 at halftime, the Hurricanes blew their lead and lost to the Seminoles 30-26. Miami hopes this weekend's matchup against the No. 6-ranked Clemson Tigers will end in a different result. 

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Clemson will come into their matchup with Miami winning nine straight games dating back to last season. Their last loss came at the hands of Georgia Tech last November at Bobby Dodd Stadium. 

After last week’s 34-17 victory against Boston College, quarterback Deshaun Watson and offensive lineman Jay Guillermo were named ACC Player of the Week for their performances. Watson threw for 420 yards and four touchdowns. 

Miami quieted critics that said they would have a Florida State hangover by defeating the Virginia Tech Hokies 30-20 last Saturday. 

The Tigers and Hurricanes have not played each other since 2010 when Miami came up victorious 30-21 at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Miami has a 6-3 all-time record against Clemson, which includes a 3-2 mark at home. 

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Clemson at Miami

​Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Clemson -7

Three Things to Watch

1. Turnover margin

The number one factor that might determine the winner on Saturday could be the difference in turnovers. Miami leads the FBS in turnover margin as the team has a plus-13 margin. Clemson ranks 82nd in the nation in turnover margin with minus-one. 

Miami junior Artie Burns leads the ACC and is tied for third nationally with five interceptions this season. His two interceptions against Virginia Tech was the Hurricanes' first multi-interception game since Tracy Howard had two picks against North Carolina back in 2013. 

Rashawn Jenkins has also had an excellent season as the safety has recorded three interceptions this year. He and Burns are two of four players in the ACC to record at least three interceptions this season.

Clemson has turned the ball over a lot as they have 12 turnovers in their six games this season. They will need to take better care of the football against a Miami defense that’s very optimistic. 

2. Wayne Gallman and the Clemson rushing attack

The Hurricanes have had trouble stopping the run all season long. The team is ranked 65th in rushing defense as the Hurricanes have given up 167.3 rushing yards per game. If they are going to defeat Clemson on Saturday, their defense will have to contain Clemson running back Wayne Gallman. 

The redshirt sophomore has rushed for 584 and five touchdowns on 106 carries this season. Gallman’s tough running style could give the Hurricanes fits, especially since Miami has missed a number of tackles on defense this season. 

Miami will also need to worry about Clemson backup running back Zac Brooks, who is averaging 9.1 yards per carry in 2015. 

3. Corn Elder 

Cornerback Corn Elder has been a factor not only on the defensive side of the ball but on special teams. The junior ranks fifth in the ACC in punt return yards and 14th in FBS in punt return average with 14.2. 

Elder’s punt return average would be higher if two of his punt return touchdowns were not called back because of penalties this season. 

He is also second in the ACC and 22nd in the nation in passes defended. So Clemson will have to pay close attention to Elder as he could hurt the Tigers in a number of ways. 

Final Analysis 

While this isn’t an ACC divisional game, this is a huge game for the Hurricanes. Al Golden has yet to have a signature win during his tenure at Miami and this is his last scheduled opportunity to do so in 2015. 

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If Miami has any chance of defeating Clemson, they will need to have a balanced attack on offense. Hurricanes running back Joe Yearby has rushed for 522 yards and five touchdowns this season, so the team will need a big performance out of him.

The Tigers are giving up 16.7 points per game on defense this season. Clemson is also allowing quarterbacks to complete only 43.8 percent of their passes this season. 

The Hurricanes played well against Florida State, but they couldn’t make the necessary stops when their defense needed to. Clemson’s offense is an upgrade from the Seminoles offense they faced two weeks ago. 

Miami has enough talent to keep this competitive until the fourth quarter, but Clemson should hold on for the win on the road.  

Prediction: Clemson 38, Miami 28

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.