By Johnny Falduto
Clemson (4-2, 2-2 ACC) will look to win its third consecutive game and surpass the .500 mark in ACC play for the first time this season as they travel to Hard Rock Stadium for an 8 P.M. ET kickoff against Miami (4-2, 0-2 ACC).
Clemson’s Returning Starters: In his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney announced that CB Nate Wiggins, WR Antonio Williams, and CB Sheridan Jones are all on track to return Saturday against Miami. Wiggins has missed the last two games with a left leg bone bruise suffered late against Florida State, Williams has missed the last three games with an ankle injury suffered against Florida Atlantic, and Jones was a late scratch against Wake Forest with headaches and blurred vision minutes before kickoff. “Mentally and physically, I think we’re in as good of a spot as we’ve been since the beginning of the season,” said Swinney.
The Health of Tyler Van Dyke: On Monday, the Miami Herald reported that Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke was seen on campus with his right leg “wrapped in an Ace bandage all the way up to above his knee” and “limping and keeping the leg completely stiff as he walked slowly.” Head Coach Mario Cristobol acknowledged that the fourth-year QB was banged up in the 41-31 loss to North Carolina last Saturday, but said he is “is ready to go” this weekend, and all indicators out of Miami seem to back that up. Van Dyke has never been known for his ability to extend plays outside of the pocket with his legs, but this is a situation to monitor, nonetheless.
History Awaits Swinney: With a win on Saturday, Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney will pass College Football Hall of Famer Frank Howard’s mark for sole possession of Clemson’s all-time head coaching wins record. Prior to last week’s open date, he tied Howard’s mark of 165 wins with the 17-12 victory over Wake Forest on October 7th.
Scouting Miami’s Offense
Miami’s offense enters Saturday averaging 501.8 yards per game, which ranks at the top of the ACC and seventh nationally. Their 37.7 points per game is also second in the ACC (FSU, 42.2) and 13th nationally.
Assuming he plays, QB Tyler Van Dyke will look to bounce back after throwing a combined five interceptions over his last two starts (both losses) against UNC and Georgia Tech. A strong-armed passer with the ability to make every throw on the field, he’s totaled 1,721 YDS, 16 TD, 6 INT, and has a QBR of 83.4 (9th in FBS) through Miami’s first six games of the season. His 91.2 pass grade via PFF ranks third among FBS QBs.
Xavier Restrepo leads all Miami receivers with 47 REC for 574 YDS (12.2 AVG) and 4 TD, and his 90.4 offensive grade ranks second among FBS WRs behind LSU’s Malik Nabers (91.2). Jacolby George (29 REC, 462 YDS, 15.9 AVG, 5 TD) and Colbie Young (23 REC, 318 YDS, 13.8 AVG, 3 TD) are also big-play threats in the passing game.
Miami has four backs with 20+ carries this season (comparatively, Clemson has two excluding Klubnik), led by Henry Parrish Jr.’s 72 for 452 YDS (6.3 AVG) and 4 TD. Donald Chaney Jr. (56 CAR, 312 YDS, 5.6 AVG, 2 TD) and Ajay Allen (31 CAR, 161 YDS, 5.2 AVG, 2 TD) are the other two main featured backs in the Hurricanes’ rushing attack that has produced 191.0 yards per game in 2023.
As a unit, Miami’s offensive line ranks 15th in FBS with a 79.1 pass block grade, and 10th with a 75.4 run block grade. They’ve allowed eight sacks all season, which ranks 22nd in the nation.
Scouting Miami’s Defense
As a unit, Miami enters Saturday’s game allowing 308.3 yards per game, which ranks third in the ACC behind Clemson (261.8) and Duke (298.5).
Statistically, Washington State transfer LB Francisco Mauigoa leads the way with 28 total tackles, 1 sack, and 2 forced fumbles on the season. S James Williams brings physicality from the back-end, and he sits second on the team with 26 total tackles. In coverage, he ranks outside of the top 100 in FBS with a 76.7 PFF grade. The featured CBs are Jaden Davis (20 tackles, 73.5 coverage grade), Daryl Porter Jr. (14 tackles, 73.2 coverage grade), and Te’Cory Couch (21 tackles, 3 INT, 70.6 coverage grade).
Off the edge, freshman Rueben Bain Jr. has totaled 2.5 sacks and ranks inside the top-15 in FBS with an 86.7 pass rush grade, and inside the top-45 with an 81.8 overall defensive grade. Jared Harrison-Hunte and Thomas Gore have two sacks a piece from the DL spot.
Betting Odds, Projections
As of Wednesday afternoon, Clemson is a 3.5-point favorite on the road via FanDuel Sportbook, and the O/U is set at 48.5.
ESPN FPI gives the Tigers a 52.2% chance to win the game, while the SP+ model leans a 26-25 Miami win.
Kickoff between Clemson and Miami is set for 8PM ET on Saturday. For live play-by-play coverage, tune into 97.5/105.5 in the Upstate, right here on theroarfm.com, or on The ROAR mobile app.