If there are any doubts about who the No. 1 team in the country is, Dabo Swinney and company may have used the first half of the ACC Championship Game to erase them. No. 1 Clemson cruised to a fairly effortless 21-0 lead at halftime over No. 7 Miami and do not appear to be done tuning up for the College Football Playoff either.
The Tigers marched right down on the opening drive of the game in what was quite the tone-setter, scoring off of a Travis Etienne four yard touchdown run to immediately put points on the board. Quarterback Kelly Bryant was really sharp through the first two quarters — 15 completions in a row to open the game — and threw for 164 yards, with another 15 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Tailback Adam Choice also added 21 yards and a rushing touchdown as well.
It didn’t take long for Miami’s vaunted turnover chain to make an appearance though, in what was Clemson’s lone mistake in the half after they went 7-of-10 on third down and scored on three of their five drives. Ray-Ray McCloud ended up muffing the first punt of the game and allowed Trent Harris to emerge from a scrum with the ball. That setup a long field goal attempt that missed to the left and otherwise spoiled the momentum from the big play, made even worse as the Tigers went right back down and scored another touchdown.
To add injury to the insult for the Hurricanes, wideout Darrell Langham — a hero in earlier wins and starting in place of the injured Ahmmon Richards — suffered a minor foot injury, defensive back Trajan Bandy was hurt and star defensive end Chad Thomas also had to be helped off.
Those injuries were compounded by the fact that the UM offense couldn’t do much at all against that feisty front seven from Clemson. Malik Rosier had just 27 yards passing and tailback Travis Homer was limited to only 28 yards on the ground.
There’s still plenty of time for a second half rally for Mark Richt’s team in the Hurricanes’ first trip to Charlotte for the ACC title game but it might take a miracle at this point given how banged up the team is and how well the Tigers are looking as they appear well on their way to locking up another playoff bid.
This is potentially very damaging news for The U at a most inopportune time.
The Miami Herald is reporting that Ahmmon Richards suffered an injury during practice Wednesday morning and he was carted off the field. The nature of the wide receiver’s injury is unknown, and head coach Mark Richt declined to discuss the wide receiver’s status moving forward.
The reported injury comes three days before Miami faces Clemson in the ACC championship game, with the winner ticketed for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Richards is currently third on the Hurricanes in receptions (24) receiving yards (439) and receiving touchdowns. His 18.3 yards per reception is third on the team among players with 10 or more catches.
Any loss of Richards would be compounded by the fact that starting tight end Chris Herndon will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Herndon is currently third on the team in all three major receiving categories (40-477-4).
UPDATED 6:01 p.m. ET: Miami announced that Richards sustained a meniscus injury in his left knee during practice today, and will miss the remainder of the season. He will undergo surgery at some point this week.
For Miami, it’s deja vu all over again.
For the first quarter and half Black Friday afternoon, it was looking as if unbeaten and second-ranked Miami would be facing its fifth halftime deficit of the season as 4-7 Pitt was leading the Hurricanes 3-0 midway through the second quarter. However, a 23-yard touchdown pass from Malik Rosier to Ahmmon Richards, which featured some nifty footwork from the latter to get into the end zone, gave the ‘Canes their first lead of the game with just over eight minutes remaining in the half.
However, a late Pitt touchdown at the end of freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett‘s six-yard scamper gave the Panthers a 10-7 lead heading into the halftime locker room. Four times previously, UM has trailed at the half — Toledo (16-10), Florida State (3-0), Georgia Tech 14-13) and Virginia (21-14); each time, the Hurricanes came from behind to win.
As the score hints at, neither offense could muster much production, with the Panthers holding a 175-108 edge in yards. The U’s much-discussed and mega-hyped turnover chain made a pair of appearances, but the Hurricanes couldn’t convert either turnover into points; in fact, the Pitt defense forced three-and-outs on each occasion.
If the Hurricanes can come from behind yet again, they will finish off a perfect 12-0 regular season for the first time since 2002. That team made it to the BCS title game but lost to Ohio State.
Miami will get the ball to start the second half.
It appears No. 14 Miami’s passing attack will be bolstered for its ACC opener this coming Saturday. Maybe.
On his radio show Monday, Mark Richt seemed cautiously optimistic that Ahmmon Richards will be available to play in the Week 5 game against Duke this Saturday. Richards hasn’t played at all yet this season as he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury that surfaced in the middle of summer camp.
The wide receiver did, though, practice Sunday, leading to Richt’s hope that the sophomore will see the field for the Hurricane against the Blue Devils.
“We didn’t do a lot on a Sunday, but he seems to be doing fine,” the head coach said by way of the Sun-Sentinel. “My guess is he’ll be ready to go.”
Last season, Richards’ 934 receiving yards and 19.1 yards per catch were tops on the Hurricanes. His 49 receptions were second on the team. Following that breakout season, he was named a consensus Freshman All-American.
With Richards sidelined, Braxton Barrios leads the ‘Canes in receiving yards (140) and yards per reception (17.5), while Christopher Herndon‘s nine catches through two games lead the way as well.
The Miami Hurricanes are set to embark on their 14th season as a member of the ACC since moving over from the old Big East. The Hurricanes were brought in to the ACC to help give the football product a boost, but Miami has yet to play for an ACC championship. Could that drought end this season?
Miami was chosen as the ACC’s Coastal Division favorite by the preseason poll at ACC media days. The Hurricanes edged out defending Coastal Division champion Virginia Tech for the top preseason spot in the division. With Mark Richt gearing up for his second season on the job at Miami, the expectations continue to rise as he tries to emulate some of the success he had at Georgia in the SEC. Considering the ACC’s Coastal Division tends to be a division up for grabs the last few years, why not Miami this season?
In the Atlantic Division, the preseason poll is heavy on Florida State, with defending ACC and national champion Clemson coming in second place behind the Seminoles. Florida State is being hyped as a top playoff contender for the 2017 season, and the preseason poll out of the ACC seems to support that thought pretty well. Florida State will open the season with a bang against Alabama in Atlanta. If all goes according to plan, it could end up being a preview of a future playoff or national championship game this season.
Louisville quarterback and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson was chosen as the preseason ACC player of the year, easily outpacing the next man in line, Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois.
- Florida State – 118
- Clemson – 35
- Louisville – 7
- (tie) Virginia Tech – 3
(tie)Miami – 3
- Duke – 1
(First place votes in parenthesis)
- Florida State (121) – 1,108
- Clemson (37) – 1,007
- Louisville (9) – 843
- NC State – 658
- Wake Forest – 415
- Syracuse – 362
- Boston College – 283
(First place votes in parenthesis)
- Miami (103) – 1,065
- Virginia Tech (40) – 932
- Georgia Tech (9) – 708
- Pitt (7) – 673
- North Carolina (4) – 606
- Duke (4) -473
- Virginia -219
ACC Player of the Year
- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville – 113
- Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State – 23
- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson – 11
- Harold Landry, DE, Boston College – 8
- Jaylen Samuels, AP, NC State – 7
- Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse – 2
- (tie) Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami – 1
(tie) Ahmmon Richards, WR, Miami – 1
(tie) Daniel Jones, QB, Duke – 1