Three thoughts on Miami’s historic loss to Clemson

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The Miami Hurricanes (4-3,1-2) suffered a horrendous loss to the No. 6 Clemson Tigers (7-0,4-0) at home Saturday. The final score at the end of the beat down was 58-0, but by then most of the fans had already left. The loss was the worst in the program’s 90-year history, and cost Head Coach Al Golden his job. In a game that left many supporters feeling sour afterward, here are some things to take away from Saturday’s game:

Clemson is a national title contender, and proved it

Give credit where credit is due: the Tigers brought their A-game. Quarterback Deshaun Watson and company set the tone offensively by scoring quickly on their first three possessions in the first quarter. By halftime, Clemson was up an insurmountable 42-0 and had 363 yards of offense. After adding another field goal midway through the third quarter, Clemson Head Coach Dabo Sweeney relieved Watson of duty, and third-string quarterback Kelly Bryant scored the final two touchdowns. The Tigers finished the game with 33 first downs, 416 rushing yards and tied their largest margin of victory ever in an ACC game.

Defensively, Clemson earned its first shutout of the year in impressive fashion. The Tigers brought relentless pressure onto sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya and forced an interception on Miami’s first possession. Early in the second quarter, Kaaya was knocked out of the game after suffering a big hit from Shaq Lawson, and redshirt freshman quarterback Malik Rosier took his place. The Tigers’ defense showed no mercy to the freshman, forcing two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and sacking him twice. As the final whistle blew, the Hurricanes offense finished with one red zone visit, 146 yards of offense and a goose egg on the scoreboard.

Miami was not ready to play, and it showed

From the start, Miami played hesitantly and conservatively, giving Clemson no pressure and plenty of room to breathe on both sides of the ball. The Hurricanes couldn’t establish a running game and didn’t have much luck through the air either. Miami’s lack of discipline didn’t help their cause, as they committed seven penalties for 88 yards, four of them being facemasks. Combine these things with Clemson’s domination at the line of scrimmage, and you can see why things snowballed so quickly. Clemson was in control of the football game as soon as they received the opening kickoff, and neither the Miami coaches nor the players could generate a response.

The road ahead didn’t get any easier, but a Coastal Division title is still possible

Seeing your favorite team lose in the manner Miami did hurts, but the season didn’t end on Saturday. While the Hurricanes didn’t make it any easier for themselves, they still face five Coastal Division foes to close out the season. Miami is in a hole, but if the team is able to finish off the season strong, they’ll definitely be in the hunt for the Coastal Division crown, and their first ACC Championship appearance in history.

After such a rough loss, it’s understandably difficult for everyone to move on. With such a proud history, more former players than ever have come out to criticize the current state of Hurricanes football. But despite all the negativity surrounding the program as of late, Miami still has a shot; and it starts at Duke on Halloween night.

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