Miami seeks a breakthrough against No. 6 Clemson
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Going through some adverse times is hardly uncommon for the Miami Hurricanes.
Handling them well, that's also been uncommon.
The primary focus of this Miami season has been winning the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division, a goal considered too meager by some fans and former players but among the current Hurricanes is viewed as the first real step toward getting back to national prominence. In short, Miami (4-2, 1-1 ACC) is looking for a breakthrough and gets another chance at making a big splash when it hosts No. 6 Clemson (6-0, 3-0) on Saturday.
And if Miami coach Al Golden sees a weakness in the Tigers, he isn't divulging.
''It's a complete team,'' Golden said. ''Worthy of where they are, certainly, from a ranking standpoint.''
The stakes are obvious for both sides: Miami needs a win to stay somewhere near the top of the race in the Coastal, and Clemson is looking to enhance its resume as a national-championship contender. If Miami loses, it could be as much as 2-1/2 games out of the lead in the division with what would be only five games left to play - and the season, not to mention Golden's future, could be squarely on the brink.
''We can't pay attention to the noise,'' Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya said, repeating a familiar refrain for the Hurricanes this season. ''All we worry about is what's going on with this team.''
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney certainly sounded like he won't be taking Miami lightly.
''If you watch their games from the beginning to the end in sequence, it's very obvious to see that their confidence has grown and they're improving,'' Swinney said. ''I think that they have figured some things out personnel-wise, they have people in the right places and they're playing their best football of the season. That's what good teams do, they get better as the year goes and that's what I see in Miami.''
Here's some of what to know going into Saturday:
GOING FOR 10: Clemson is going for its 10th consecutive win going back to last season, and if the Tigers get it they would match the fifth-longest run in school history. Clemson's record is 15 straight wins between 1947 and 1949, and the Tigers have streaks of 13 (1939-40), 13 again (1980-82), 11 (1978-79), and 10 twice (first from 1982-83, then again from 1983-84).
PERFECT 10: Kaaya has thrown for at least two touchdowns in all 10 of his home games as a Hurricane. He's the only active quarterback in the country with such a streak. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson has two TD throws in nine of his 10 home games with the Tigers, with the lone exception being a game against Louisville last year when he departed with a hand injury.
TOP 10 STRUGGLES: Miami is 1-9 in its last 10 games against Top 10 teams, and the one win in that span came against an Oklahoma team that was missing Sam Bradford because of injury. The last time an unranked Miami team defeated a Top 10 opponent was Dec. 3, 1998 - when the Hurricanes topped then-No. 3 UCLA 49-45.
10TH MEETING: Saturday marks the 10th time Miami and Clemson will have met, with the Hurricanes going 6-3 in the previous matchups in a series that goes back to 1945. But Clemson's biggest win was in Miami - just not against the Hurricanes. The Tigers won the 1981 national championship by topping Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
RETURNING 10: Clemson has 10 players on its roster from the southern half of Florida (using the Orlando area as the dividing line), and nine are on the probable travel roster for this weekend. That list includes three Tigers from towns relatively close to Miami - CB McKensie Alexander of Immokalee, CB Adrian Baker of Hallandale and DE Richard Yeargin of Lauderdale Lakes.