The No. 1 ranked Clemson Tigers passed their first test of the young 2020 season Saturday night, as they defeated the Virginia Cavaliers by a final score of 43-21. However, the tests go from basic Algebra to AP Calculus this week, when the Tigers welcome the red-hot, seventh-ranked Miami Hurricanes into Memorial Stadium for a primetime (7:30 pm, ABC) matchup Saturday.
Not only did the Tigers and Hurricanes get picked up by ABC for its prime television spot, they are also bringing ESPN's flagship college football pregame show College GameDay to Tiger Town—which always means the game is big.
"They don't usually pick them bad matchups for GameDay, so this will be a good one," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.
Saturday's game will mark the first meeting between Clemson and Miami since the 2017 ACC championship game, when Clemson earned a 38-3 victory to secure the third of its five consecutive ACC titles across the last five seasons. That game featured the No. 1-ranked Tigers and the No. 7-ranked Hurricanes, the exact same AP Poll rankings these squads carry into Saturday night's contest.
However, Swinney understands better than anyone that a quarterback can be the difference in a win and a loss. And the Hurricanes have a quarterback this season in D'Eriq King.
"This will be an incredibly fast, physical and confident team," Swinney said. "I saw some of their UAB game and some of the Louisville game. We know their style of play. They have good players all over the field. Their quarterback is a difference-maker for them for sure."
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"Looking at their quarterback, he can do it all...There’s really nothing he can't do. He can make all the throws and when he runs it, he’s a running back," Swinney added.
Swinney is not the only one who believes that King could pose a problem for the Tigers. ESPN reporter Andrea Adelson expressed concerns for the Tiger defense on an appearance on "Packer and Durham" Monday.
“As I was watching the (Clemson-UVA game), I thought, if (UVA quarterback) Brennan Armstrong can do this, D’Eriq King must be watching this game thinking, ‘Boy, I might have an opportunity to have a big game,’ especially after what we have seen out of D’Eriq leading up to this,” Adelson said. “Miami had a week off and had an extra week to prepare for this game.”
“Virginia did some things that maybe took the defense out of their game a little bit, but now Miami comes in with their athletes and who they have at quarterback...That defense is going to have to make adjustments if they want to try and slow down Miami and have the type of game and performance on what we all expect out of Clemson,” she added.
Swinny agrees that if the Tigers are going to emerge with their FBS record 47th straight win on a Saturday, they will have to improve on a lot of things before they take the field.
"There is so much we have to improve on fundamentals defensively, space-tackling. That was some bad football on the last drive before the half," Swinney said."To our standard, we didn't wrap up like we needed to. Some of it is alignment, position, eyes. Leaving our feet too early. We took a couple of bad angles. Definitely a bunch of things we can correct. All fundamental stuff and technique things. Just a lot of things we can clean up."