A pair of teams will look to become bowl-eligible on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium as Miami plays host to a surprise Louisville team.
The Hurricanes come in on a 2-game winning streak after impressive road victories over Pittsburgh and Florida State. After winning just two games last season, the Cardinals have been one of the ACC’s pleasant surprises at 5-3 under first-year head coach Scott Satterfield.
The 5-4 Hurricanes are also led by a first-year coach in Manny Diaz. A big reason for Miami’s recent success has been turning back to redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams. After leading the game-winning drive against Pittsburgh two weeks ago, Williams passed for 313 yards and a pair of scores in last week’s 27-10 win over FSU.
The offensive line is a massive question mark for Miami, but the skill players are excellent. Running back DeeJay Dallas has 547 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on six yards per carry. Tight end Brevin Jordan may be the best in the ACC and the receivers around him in K.J. Osborn, Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley are very good. Jordan leads the team with 495 yards receiving while Osborn has caught a team-high five touchdowns.
The defense for Louisville is allowing more points per game than any team in the ACC. Junior linebacker C.J. Avery and senior safety Khane Pass each lead the Cardinals with 58 total tackles. Sophomore Anthony Johnson leads the team with three forced fumbles. Louisville has managed just 18 sacks as a team with linebacker Monty Montgomery leading the way with four.
Offensively, the Cardinals rank fifth in the ACC in yards per game and fourth in points. Three different quarterbacks have spent time for Louisville, but sophomore Micale Cunningham is the most talented. Cunningham has more than 1,000 yards passing, 12 total touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Freshman running back Javian Hawkins is averaging 5.4 yards per carry, has six touchdown rushes and is 113 rushing yards from 1,000. At receiver, Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick are a nice duo. Atwell, a sophomore, leads the team with 668 yards receiving and seven touchdown grabs. Fitzpatrick has caught five touchdowns after a slow start. Junior Mekhi Becton is the best the Cardinals have up front.
Becton and the Louisville offensive line will have their hands full with Miami’s Greg Rousseau. After a 4-sack performance against FSU, Rousseau ranks second in the nation with 12 sacks. As a team, the Hurricanes rank third nationally with 34 sacks.
Shaquille Quarterman leads an experienced corps of linebackers with 72 total tackles. Amari Carter, D.J. Ivey and Trajan Bandy make for a talented Miami secondary. As a defense, the Hurricanes rank second in the ACC in total and scoring defense behind only Clemson.
The Cardinals won the last meeting by a 31-13 score on Labor Day 2014. This will be the first meeting in South Florida since Miami rallied from 17 points down for a 41-38 victory on a Thursday night in 2004. Saturday’s contest in South Florida will begin at 3:30 p.m. EST and will air on ESPN2.
Prediction: Miami 34, Louisville 29
Other Games Across the State
Temple (5-3) at South Florida (4-4)
Thursday, Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
South Florida has won four of six since an 0-2 start and may be playing for bowl-eligibility on Thursday night. Since a 5-1 start, Temple has lost to SMU and UCF by a combined 59 points.
Prediction: South Florida 32, Temple 30
UCF (7-2) at Tulsa (2-7)
Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Since a midseason skid, UCF has won three games in a row while averaging better than 49 points per game. Tulsa is among three teams in the American Athletic Conference without a conference win.
Prediction: UCF 52, Tulsa 21
Vanderbilt (2-6) at No. 10 Florida (7-2)
Saturday, Nov. 9 at 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Florida will look to bounce back from a tough loss to Georgia against a Vanderbilt team that is probably the worst in the SEC East. The Commodores have just one win in Gainesville (2013) since 1946.
Prediction: Florida 38, Vanderbilt 10
Florida State (4-5) at Boston College (5-4)
Saturday, Nov. 9 at 12 p.m. ET (ACC Network)
Interim head coach Odell Haggins takes over for the recently fired Willie Taggart as Florida State looks for its first road win of the season. Boston College running back A.J. Dillon ranks second nationally with 1,286 yards rushing and 13 rushing touchdowns.
Prediction: Florida State 38, Boston College 34
Florida International (5-4) at Florida Atlantic (6-3)
Saturday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. ET
For the second time in three years, the “Shula Bowl” will feature teams with winning records. The Owls have won the last two by a 101-38 margin and hold a 12-5 advantage over Florida International in the series.
Prediction: Florida Atlantic 41, Florida International 24
Arizona Cardinals (3-5-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6)
Sunday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Former No. 1 overall picks will square off at quarterback as Jameis Winston looks to build on a strong performance against Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. This is Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Bruce Arians’ first game against his former team.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 30, Arizona 26
Miami Dolphins (1-7) at Indianapolis Colts (5-3)
Sunday, Nov. 10 at 4:05 p.m. (CBS)
The Miami Dolphins have a win after beating the New York Jets and former head coach Adam Gase last week. The Colts rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Miami last season in Indianapolis.
Prediction: Indianapolis 27, Miami 17