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Preview 2023: Miami vs Boston College Football

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The final week of the 2023 regular season sees the Miami Hurricanes make the trek up to the East Coast for a nationally-televised showdown with the Eagles on Thanksgiving weekend. Both teams will be looking to finish the regular season strongly, and both could very well be battling for bowl eligibility here.

When: Friday, November 24th at 12:00PM (Black Friday afternoon!)

Where: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, MA

Miami Hurricanes Preview:

In Year One of the Mario Cristobal homecoming, almost nothing went right for the Hurricanes. Promising young quarterback Tyler Van Dyke dealt with injury and a drop-off in performance behind a patchy O-line. The skill corps did not produce any semblance of consistency, failing to score over 25 points against a Power Five opponent outside of Georgia Tech, and the defense remained vulnerable to the big play. After suffering multiple embarrassing, multiple-score blowouts (most painfully a two-score loss to Middle Tennessee), Cristobal overhauled his staff and brought in a loaded transfer class.

Offensively, much rests on the shoulders of Van Dyke and his ability to recapture the promise of his 2,900 yard, 25 touchdown 2021 campaign. If he cannot improve his game elevate the Miami offense, this team will be consigned to mediocrity. The good news is that his offensive line should be greatly improved. Two five-star tackles, Francis Mauigoa and Samson Okunlola, arrive in Coral Gables with a ton of talent and upside. They will push for early playing time. Zion Nelson returns, at last healthy, and all together this line has the potential to be excellent. The skill corps is fine. Last season’s leading receiver (despite only accruing 538 yards) was TE Will Mallory, and he has since graduated. However, nearly every other contributor from last year’s squad returns, including breakout candidate Colbie Young. Leading rusher Henry Parrish Jr. returns looking to build upon his 600-yard campaign, and Cristobal also brought in several blue-chip prospects at the WR and RB positions as well. With all the young talent coming in, there will be depth. But is there enough top-end talent here to truly elevate the Hurricane offense?

The defensive side of the ball arguably struggled just as much as the offense last season. They conceded 40+ points five times last season despite the amount of talent on the team. There are plenty of playmakers, highlighted by Kamren Kinchens, who is probably the best safety in the ACC if not the country. He brings solid tackling (tied for team lead with 59) and elite ball skills (6 picks) back to the defense, and his star partner James Williams is back as well. The top two sack leaders on the roster, Akeem Mesidor (7) and Jahfari Harvey (5.5) are both back as well. The issue for Miami is that they had all these guys last year and still gave up those massive clunkers. As always with Cristobal, there are several high-talent freshman coming in, so these guys could make an impact as well. If Miami wants to turn its program around this season, it may need some of those young guys to step up. With a further year in the system, this defense should and will be stronger. The question is how much stronger.

Keys to the Game:

  • Play smart, and control the game. Miami has playmakers on both sides of the ball that can turn the tide of a game on one play, but as a whole this team is wildly inconsistent and lacks the high-end talent to dominate games from start to finish. If Boston College can play solid, consistent, mistake-free football — don’t turn the ball over offensively, and eliminate explosive gains defensively — I think Boston College certainly could pull a win out.

Preseason Prediction:

Last season, even with bowl eligibility on the line, Miami came out listless and got absolutely thumped by Pitt to condemn the Hurricanes to a losing season. This time, their regular season finale will be all the way up in Boston, where hopefully the chilly New England November weather welcomes them. In the last home game of the season, against an inconsistent team in weather they won't be used to, I like the Eagles by a touchdown.