After a roller coaster of a season filled with a fair share of ups and downs, Miami is looking to end its regular season on a high note when it travels to Durham, North Carolina to face Duke.
“We’ve got to make sure we finish the regular season,” Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz said. “We still believe that our best performance [of the season] is out there … Our focus this week is to find a way to play a complete, 60-minute game up there in Durham.”
History favors Miami (6-5, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) as it leads the all-time series against Duke 14-4, and the Canes have won eight out of the last 10 games played in Durham.
Given that this is both teams’ final regular season game and that Duke is ineligible for postseason play, Diaz expects the Blue Devils (3-8, 0-7 ACC) to play harder than usual.
“There’s always that sense of urgency,” Diaz said. “When you’re at the University of Miami, you always expect everybody’s best shot.”
The Canes will be led on Sunday by redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who is fresh off a 357-yard and three-touchdown showing against Virginia Tech. As a result of this performance, Van Dyke was named the ACC Rookie of the Week, an honor that has been bestowed upon him four times now.
“Each week I’m learning from the game before,” Van Dyke said. “The whole team has really helped me come into this role and given me the confidence that I have right now.”
Van Dyke should be able to succeed against Duke’s lackluster pass defense, which ranks 128th out of 130 teams nationally in passing yards allowed per game.
Duke is not getting the elite level of play from its signal-caller that Miami is, as Blue Devils graduate quarterback Gunnar Holmberg has struggled this season, throwing for only seven touchdowns in 10 games.
The Blue Devils will be lead on offense by senior running back Mateo Durant, who ranks second in the ACC in total rushing yards with 1173 yards.
The Canes have a star running back of their own in freshman Jaylan Knighton, who will look to attack Duke’s poor rushing defense — charted 116th nationally in rushing yards allowed per game.
Two Hurricanes receivers will attempt to etch their names in Miami’s record books on Saturday: senior Mike Harley and redshirt junior Charleston Rambo.
Harley needs only five more receptions to break legendary Hurricanes receiver Reggie Wayne’s career receptions record of 174, while Rambo only needs two more receptions and 93 more receiving yards to set Miami’s single-season receptions and receiving yards record.
“[The career receptions record] would mean a lot knowing what I’ve been through here at this university … A lot of perseverance,” Harley said. “That’ll show a lot of guys to never give up.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.