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Clemson Football

Keys to Victory: Clemson at Miami

October 21, 2023

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Each week, we review the game’s history, three keys to success, and Swanny’s prediction.

The Match-Up:

Clemson (4-2, 2-2 ACC) at Miami (4-2, 0-2 ACC)

Saturday's contest will be a matchup of the ACC's top total defense (Clemson, 261.8 yards allowed per game) and its top total offense (Miami, 501.8 yards gained per game). Each unit ranks in the Top 10 nationally, as the Tigers stand fifth in the FBS in total defense, while the Hurricanes' offensive production ranks seventh.

Clemson has continued its stout run defense, a metric in which Clemson has ranked in the Top 25 nationally every year since 2014, but Clemson's largest improvement defensively in 2023 has come through the air, where the Tigers are allowing 56.2 fewer yards per game and a 21.8 drop in opponent passer rating from a season ago. Clemson ranked 76th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game in 2022 but ranks 14th this season.

Series History:

  • OVERALL: Clemson leads series, 7-6
  • HOME: Series is tied, 2-2
  • ROAD: Clemson leads series, 4-3
  • NEUTRAL: Series is tied, 1-1
  • LAST MEETING: Nov. 19, 2022 (40-10, W)
  • STREAK: Clemson, Won 4


Clemson’s Travel Roster will be released two hours before kickoff. We will update this post and also share the information on our Twitter account.

Stat of the Week:

Clemson is attempting to win a fifth straight game against Miami for the first time in school history. Clemson’s four straight wins in the series include two wins in Clemson in 2020 and 2022, a win in the 2017 ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, and a 58-0 win in the Tigers’ most recent road game at Miami in 2015.

Chasing History:

Head Coach Dabo Swinney is attempting to earn his 166th career win to pass College Football Hall of Famer Frank Howard (165 from 1940-69) for sole possession of the Clemson record for career head coaching wins. Swinney can also match the career win total of College Football Hall of Famer Red Blaik, who won 166 games at Dartmouth and Army from 1934-58. 

Key 1: Shake and Bake

Clemson’s offense has had a fair share of ups and downs this season, and as I noted in an earlier article, a lot of those issues stem from Cade Klubnik’s play. When he’s good-- he’s good. When he has bad turnovers-- well, look no further than the two losses on Clemson’s schedule to see what happens. 

I asked Dabo Swinney after the Wake Forest game is Clemson should utilize Klubnik with designed runs, not R.P.O. style plays, but legit rushing calls for the Tiger quarterback. He didn't directly say that would be an emphasis, but he didn’t shoot it down, pointing to Klubnik’s rushing touchdown against Wake Forest coming on...a designed run. 

I think Klubnik is at his best when his legs are a weapon for Clemson, and I sure hope we see some of that tonight against Miami.

Key 2: Protection

Getting Antonio Williams and Tyler Brown on the field together seems like a good sign for the Tigers’ passing game, but none of that will matter if the offensive line can’t hold up. Miami has been pressuring teams quite a bit this season, and giving Klubnik time in the pocket will be important this evening.

The Tigers can certainly mitigate some of the pressure with the short passing game, but giving the two most explosive wideouts time downfield to make plays will go a long way in keeping the Clemson offense on schedule.

If the Tigers play from behind the sticks for most of the game-- it won’t go well.

Key 3: Secondary Showcase 

Clemson’s secondary will face their second biggest test of the season when they face Miami. The Hurricanes have a talented group led by Xavier Restrepo. Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke has been solid this season, passing for 1,721 yards with 16 touchdowns, but his six interceptions stand out. 

If Clemson is going to win tonight, they cannot let this Hurricane passing attack get going. Nate Wiggins returns at cornerback for the Tigers, and his absence over the past few weeks allowed some younger guys to earn valuable experience. 

The Tigers defensive line will need to pressure Van Dyke, forcing him to release the ball sooner than he’d like giving Clemson’s secondary a chance to make plays. 


There is no chance Clemson wins a shootout against the Hurricanes. I just can’t see the Tiger offense keeping pace if Van Dyke and the Miami offense get rolling. To me, this is a game where the Clemson defense has to hold its own, allowing what’s been a sluggish and inopportune offense a chance to win on the road.

In my opinion, this game finishes with both teams scoring less than 30 points, and that’s a big positive for Clemson.

Clemson 27, Miami 23


Swanny’s Predictions: 

Date Matchup Swanny’s Prediction Actual Score ✅ or 

9-4-2023 No. 9 Clemson at Duke 38-17 Clemson  28-7 Duke
9-9-2023 No. 25 Clemson vs. Charleston Southern 45-10 Clemson 66-17 Clemson
9-16-2023 Clemson vs. Florida Atlantic 45-10 Clemson 48-14
9-23-2023 Clemson vs. No. 4 Florida State 31-24 FSU 31-24 FSU (OT)
9-30-2023 Clemson at Syracuse 31-20 Clemson 31-14 Clemson
10-7-2023 Clemson vs. Wake Forest 42-17 Clemson 17-12 Clemson
10-21-2023 Clemson at Miami 27-23 Clemson

✅ = Correct Prediction

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