Are the Miami Hurricanes ‘back’? Clemson just answered emphatically — yet again | Opinion
If you're making an effort to see the glass half full here instead of, say, breaking it into pieces, all you can do is look at the math and say that Saturday night was a step up for the University of Miami football program.
At least there is.
However, if this was the measuring stick game, that stick canes football just hit the backside, turned it upside down, and in all directions. This was a beating. Unfortunately, this was Clemson. Again. And a thorough comeuppance that will bring you to your seat. Again.
Do you know how Miami fans who crave a return to fame are always looking for signs that the U is "back"?
The Clemson Tigers are always the fucking answer. And it's not what UM wants.
In 2015 it was Tigers over Canes 58-0, in the home defeat, that pretty much drove coach Al Golden out of town.
In 2017 it was 38-3, Clemson, in the ACC Championship Game, perhaps the start of Mark Richt who decided he really didn't love training that much anymore.
In 2020, Saturday night, Miami lost 42-17 in a one-sided game to an unhealthy crowd in South Carolina in a pandemic. It never felt that tight. Was there a minute in which you ever felt a surprise?
Clemson dominated watch, mileage, everything.
In the duel of the quarterbacks of the Heisman Trophy candidates, only one appeared. Trevor Lawrence threw 121 yards (12 for 28) and two interceptions for 292 yards and three touchdowns at D'Eriq Kings before backup N'Kosi Perry showed up.
UM's first TD was offered by a rare trainer courtesy of Dabo Swinney. As the first half wore off, he inexplicably requested a 61-yard field goal attempt. It was blocked and brought back 48 yards to the end zone after DJ Ivey time ran out.
Miami had the best kicker in the game. That's it already.
King had a 56-yard run and a 42-yard pass, but otherwise the highlights were rare to find on either side of the line.
Penalties hurt UM, but not nearly as much as Clemson's talent edge.
Miami has now lost four games in a row when playing with a top 10 leaderboard. That is not "back".
Many teams have their enemy opponents. Unfortunately, UM's personal bully happens to be a national powerhouse of its own conference that is the obstacle to Miami's full return to elite notoriety. The Canes' way to "return" to compete for national championships again leads through Clemson.
Oh how we are reminded of it over and over again.
UM head coach Manny Diaz was defensive coordinator for that loss in the loss to Clemson in 17. He called it a "learning experience".
The knowledge gained was not apparent on Saturday evening.
In fairness, Miami has obviously improved a lot from its 6-7 disappointment in recent years. But Clemson is on another level. Maybe another planet.
Both teams went into this game 3-0. Clemson was number 1 in the nation and you knew why. Miami was ranked # 7 and you were wondering if that is high.
Saturday answered both ends.
A superficial 31:14 home win over smaller UAB, a big 47:34 triumph at Louisville, then a 52:10 home win over rival Florida State, who made the top 10 list this weird college season came but really told us very little about how good the canes really were.
Saturday would. And it happened on a big national stage on prime time on ABC. "At Clemson" are the two scariest words in sports these days, especially for Miami.
Clemson was a 14 point favorite and you almost wanted to think, "Is that all?"
Diaz rightly called it, "A great opportunity for us to test ourselves." The note on his paper might make him wince.
Clemson is essentially what the canes were in the glory years, with those five national championships from 1983 to 2001. And what Miami wants to be again.
"We need to get our program to where it is," said Diaz - not UM-sized in the past, but Clemson now.
The last three inter-school meetings in Miami scored 138-20 points.
UM's margins have fallen from 58 to 35 to 25.
Technically, that's a step forward.
Still, the best answer to "Are the sticks back?" could still start with another question:
Is there any chance Clemson can somehow get banned from the ACC?
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