After a week off No. 11 Miami makes its return to the field focused on its pursuit of an ACC Championship Game berth as it travels to Raleigh, North Carolina, to face NC State at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday. With five conference games left on the schedule, the Hurricanes are 5-1 overall and 4-1 in ACC play and are currently sitting in third place behind Clemson and Notre Dame.
Both the Tigers and the Fighting Irish are undefeated to this point but with a showdown on Saturday night coming up one will come out of Week 10 with an ACC loss. That puts Miami squarely in the running to finish as one of the top two teams in the 15-team, one-division ACC standings at the end of the year. But before we can talk about tiebreaker scenarios for the ACC Championship Game, the Hurricanes have to take care of business and win out the rest of the way.
NC State was also off last week as it looks to bounce back from a rivalry game loss to North Carolina. The last two outings have presented challenges for the Wolfpack with starting quarterback Devin Leary suffering an injury that will keep him out 4-8 weeks in a win over Duke and then the offense, without Leary, struggled to keep pace with the Tar Heels last time out. Bailey Hockman will once again be the starter for NC State in Leary’s place, with hopes that the extra time to prepare will have the Pack ready to face Miami’s dangerous defensive front. Odds via William Hill Sportsbook
Miami: One of the early storylines of the season was Miami’s new-look offense with Rhett Lashlee joining the program as offensive coordinator and transfer quarterback D’Eriq King leading that group on the field. The Hurricanes showed an up-tempo attack that stressed defenses and helped produce explosive play, and the combination of King and running back Cam’Ron Harris helped fuel a rushing attack within that tempo system that proved to be very productive. But after lighting up the scoreboard against Louisville and Florida State, the Hurricanes have averaged just 22.3 points per game over their last three games. That average, which includes the loss to Clemson and wins against Pitt and Virginia, is 10 points per game lower the entire season average more than 20 points per game lower than their scoring average in the first three games.
While the Clemson result can be a credit to Brent Venables and the Tigers’ defense, Miami needs to be able to flex on lesser opponents with this new-look offense if it’s going to be an ACC Championship contender. That the real key to winning out the rest of the way, because the Miami defense has done a great job of carrying the weight of competition and establishing leverage in the last two wins. Leading with defense has been the calling card of recent Miami teams, but that’s not going to be enough to meet expectations considering the explosive start to the season on offense.
NC State: There are plenty of reasons to think that Bailey Hockman is the right choice to guide this offense in this game, including his mobility against an aggressive Miami defensive front that has a ton of success getting to the quarterback. Hockman is a threat in the run game and can extend the play with his legs, all of which will keep Quincy Roche and Jaelen Phillips from being able to pin their ears back and allow the Wolfpack to try and establish some long drives with the rushing attack. But Hockman is not the same kind of weapon in the passing game, and that’s where we may see an appearance from freshman quarterback Ben Finley. The younger brother of former NC State quarterback Ryan Finley, Ben entered the game against North Carolina and brought some energy that helped propel the offense down the field. It was only until an unfortunate interception in the end zone — one that was bobbled by the NC State receiver and then scooped up in a diving effort by North Carolina — that the Finley-led offense lost some momentum. The battle of maintaining with the veteran (Hockman) or trying to work on the future (Finley) drives the quarterback conversation with Leary out.
Date: Friday, Nov. 6 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Carter-Finley Stadium — Raleigh, North Carolina
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Game prediction, picks
This isn’t an upset alert spot, but given the way that offense has looked recently, I don’t think we can trust Miami as a double-digit road favorite on a Friday night. I’m looking for the NC State defense to show up and play with heightened energy, giving the Wolfpack the cover. Also, according to ESPN’s Chris Fallica, top-12 teams are 10-26-1 against the spread this season as double-digit favorites over unranked opponents, including just 4-19 against the spread away from home. Pick: NC State +10.5
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