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Miami vs. Clemson Prediction: Tigers Look to Stay Perfect in ACC Play When They Host the Hurricanes

Miami still needs one win to become bowl eligible, Clemson still hanging onto its playoff hopes.

It's been a disappointing, yet interesting ACC season for the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes are 3-3 in the conference (5-5 overall), having won each of their road games and falling in all of the league contests played at Hard Rock Stadium. So it has to be good news that Miami will be on the road this weekend, right?

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 12

Well, maybe not. On Saturday, the Hurricanes will be heading to Death Valley, where Clemson has not lost to an ACC opponent in 39 games. The Tigers (9-1, 7-0 ACC) rebounded well from their loss to Notre Dame with Saturday's 31-16 victory over a Louisville squad that was riding a four-game win streak. While their College Football Playoff hopes may be on life support, No. 9 Clemson is not dead yet and need to keep winning with style.

The all-time series is tied at six wins apiece, though Clemson has claimed the last three by a combined score of 138-20.

Miami at No. 9 Clemson

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 19 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Clemson -19
Tickets: As low as $34 on SITickets.com

When Miami Has the Ball

Maybe, just maybe, the Hurricanes found something late in the Georgia Tech game. After not scoring more than 24 points against any Power 5 team in 2022 and putting only 14 points on the board in the first three quarters against the Yellow Jackets, Miami scored three touchdowns in the final 15 minutes and ran away with a 35-14 victory. Jacurri Brown ended the game by completing 14 of 19 passes with three touchdowns and ran for 87 yards, giving the Canes a desperately needed spark from the quarterback position.

Brown spread the ball around to seven different targets, including former Clemson wide receiver Frank Ladson Jr., who caught two passes for 42 yards. But the biggest offensive development had to be Jaylon Knighton's 118 rushing yards, which was the most by a Miami back this season. With Henry Parrish out with an injury, Knighton made the most of his opportunity. Miami has the nation's No. 83 rushing offense, so the yards gained on the ground by both Brown and Knighton were a welcome surprise.

Of course, Georgia Tech has the ACC's worst rushing defense. Clemson ranks 19th nationally in that department, so this week will be a different type of challenge for Miami. Notre Dame did push Clemson around two weeks ago and Louisville averaged five yards per carry, though because the Cardinals were behind for much of the day, the Tigers knew Louisville would not mount a comeback by running the ball. Clemson got another sensational performance from linebacker Barrett Carter, who had eight tackles, 3.5 of those for a loss, including two sacks. With the big boys up front commanding so much attention, Carter has been a major force all season long.

When Clemson Has the Ball

The strength of the Tiger offense has been the running game and after a less-than-stellar performance in South Bend, Clemson got back to doing what they do best against the Cardinals. Phil Mafah went over 100 yards and Will Shipley had 97, including a must-see 25-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers a commanding 24-7 lead just after halftime. Clemson is fourth in the ACC in rushing, and the success of this offense is tied to running the ball.

Obviously, the quarterback question still lingers. Last Saturday, DJ Uiagalelei did his job, as he completed 19 of 27 for 185 yards and one touchdown. He didn't throw a pick but he did have a fumble that ended a promising Tiger drive. He wasn't spectacular, but that wasn't needed as Clemson punished Louisville in the run game. Wide receiver Antonio Williams added to his impressive freshman résumé by catching a season-high 10 passes for 83 yards and a score. This offense does not look like the big-play Tiger teams of the past, but they now have an identity and know what they have to do to win.

And they will not change this week. From a sheer statistical perspective, Miami is fifth in the ACC against the run, allowing 126 yards per game. But good teams have run the ball effectively on the Canes. Florida State had 229 yards on the ground the week before last and Duke had 200 two weeks prior. It's not a coincidence that the Canes lost both in blowout fashion. If Miami has any shot in this game, linebackers Corey Flagg and Mitchell Agude are going to have to put together big games and force Clemson into obvious pass situations.

Final Analysis

It was good for Miami and head coach Mario Cristobal that the team rallied late and came away with a victory against Georgia Tech after getting completely embarrassed at home against Florida State the week before. The Hurricanes need one victory for bowl eligibility, but they will have to hope they can beat Pitt on Thanksgiving weekend for that to happen. Although Clemson has clinched the ACC Atlantic, the Tigers also know that any chance of a CFP appearance goes out the window with a loss to Miami. Actually, a close win would probably do damage as well. The Tigers will get up early and win with very little drama.

Prediction: Clemson 37, Miami 14

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Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, focusing on the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

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