Your Preview For Saturday's Miami Hurricanes-Blue Devils Game

What to watch for when the Miami Hurricanes face the Duke Blue Devils in the 2012 season finale

By David Hill
|  Saturday, Nov 24, 2012  |  Updated 9:32 AM EDT
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Fresh of a Senior Day win over USF, the Miami Hurricanes close out the 2012 season with a trip to Duke to face the Blue Devils.

Miami can clinch an ACC Coastal Division crown with a win, but because the Canes have opted to self-impose a bowl ban in anticipation of NCAA sanctions for the Nevin Shapiro scandal, the Canes will be ineligible to participate in next week's ACC Championship Game.

"It's going to be quite a challenge for our guys, and I think they understand that," Miami coach Al Golden said on Tuesday. "We've got to make sure we maintain our focus and get our team ready to go out there."

At 6-5, Duke is bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. The Blue Devils are riding a three-game losing streak, though, falling for the first time of the season at home last week against Georgia Tech. The Blue Devils can improve their position for bowl selection with a win, while Miami will be playing for pride with its season over after the game.

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When the Canes have the ball: Following a midseason swoon, the UM offense has gotten back on track, as the Canes scored 40 points in each of the past two games. QB Stephen Morris has set a school record with 4 games of 400+ yards passing, throwing for 413 yards and three touchdowns against USF last week.

RB Duke Johnson can break a school freshman record if he gains 69 yards on Saturday. Clinton Portis had 839 yards as a frosh in 1999. Johnson is averaging 6.3 yards a carry, with seven touchdowns on the season.

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Duke struggled against Georgia Tech's rushing attack last week, giving up 330 yards on the ground. Look for Miami to use a combination of misdirection on running plays and play-action passes to confuse the Blue Devils.

When the Blue Devils have the ball: Duke's offense was a juggernaut through the first eight games of the season, when they racked up the second most passing yards in the ACC. But as of late the Blue Devils have struggled to put points on the board, breaking 30 just once in the last five games.

QB Sean Renfree has been efficient throughout the year, completing 67% of his passes with 14 touchdowns against 8 interceptions. His top targets, WRs Conner Vernon and Jamison Crowder, account for over half Duke's receiving yards with 11 touchdowns combined.

Miami's defense looked much improved last week against USF, albeit against a pair of freshman backups. The Canes held USF to 3-of-14 on third-down conversions, and force field goals on the Bulls' three red-zone trips. They will need to be similarly efficient if they want to slow down the Blue Devils.

Who has the edge? Miami has beaten Duke eight times in a row, but this go around will not be as easy as recent match-ups. Miami's offensive firepower could prove to be too much for Duke to handle.

The pick: Canes 42-Blue Devils 31

Coverage begins at 12:30 on the ACC Network (coverage details).

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