October 10, 2020 | 9:01am
LAS VEGAS — D’Eriq King transferred to Miami to play on a big stage, and it gets no bigger than this on the second Saturday in October. The early hype surrounding the Hurricanes means nothing if they get blown away by top-ranked Clemson.
The Tigers have been double-digit favorites in 32 consecutive regular-season games and rarely get challenged in ACC play, so this is the only true measuring-stick game on Miami’s schedule.
The Hurricanes, 3-0 and ranked No. 7, storm into Death Valley to take on Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers in the prime-time spotlight. The quarterback duel between King and Lawrence has Heisman Trophy stakes.
King, a transfer from Houston, has been sensational in a new offense while completing 67 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions. He also has rushed for 157 yards. Cam’Ron Harris is the team’s top rusher with 311 yards (8.2 per carry) and five TDs. Miami is scoring 43.3 points per game after double-digit victories over UAB, Louisville and Florida State.
It helped the Hurricanes’ cause to have a week off to prepare for Clemson, which failed to cover last week as a 28-point favorite in a 41-23 victory over Virginia. Lawrence passed for 329 yards and three TDs, and Travis Etienne accounted for 187 total yards (114 receiving, 73 rushing) against the Cavaliers. Lawrence has a streak of 314 pass attempts without an interception.
The Clemson defense allowed 417 total yards against Virginia, something that should encourage King and Miami’s creative offensive coordinator, Rhett Lashlee. The Hurricanes appear worthy of the hype, partly because their defense is fast and physical and mostly because King is an experienced playmaker who can trade shots with Lawrence.
Underdog bettors are not asking for an upset — just be competitive and cover a big number.
The pick: Miami +15
(Home team in CAPS)
Oklahoma Sooners (-2.5) over Texas Longhorns
The Big 12 is on the brink of postseason irrelevance after the Longhorns were upset by TCU and the Sooners were stunned for the second straight week. Texas’ main advantage this week is the experience of senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who leads the nation with 14 touchdown passes. Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley has the coaching edge. The Sooners, after dropping back-to-back regular-season games for the first time since 1999, seem more likely to bounce back.
Florida State Seminoles (+21) over NOTRE DAME
A coronavirus outbreak in the Fighting Irish program means this will be their first game in three weeks. The layoff is probably a negative for the offense, and senior quarterback Ian Book has started slowly anyway.
The Notre Dame defense is yielding just 6.5 points through two games against below-averages offenses, and here comes another struggling offense. However, Seminoles coach Mike Norvell benched two quarterbacks before turning to sophomore Jordan Travis, a transfer from Louisville who led five consecutive touchdown drives last week in a 41-24 victory over Jacksonville State. The QB switch should help.
Last week: 3-1. Virginia (W), South Carolina (W), Navy-Air Force Under (L), Georgia (W).