After two weeks off that featured three games postponed, the No. 10 Miami Hurricanes will be playing this week. The ACC announced on Sunday night that Miami will play the Duke Blue Devils in Durham, North Carolina on December 5th at 8 p.m. with the game being televised on the ACC Network.
The advanced metrics view the Hurricanes as a significant favorite over the Blue Devils. The ESPN Football Power Index views UM as entering the game with an 84.6 percent win probability.
Duke (2-7 1-7) ranks as the 87th overall team in the country, according to the FPI rankings. Only Florida State and Syracuse rank lower amongst ACC teams.
The Blue Devils are coming off a 56-33 loss at Georgia Tech this weekend. The last ACC win for Duke was an October 10th 38-24 win over Syracuse.
All of Duke’s ACC losses have been by an average margin of 17 points. Only one defeat, a 38-31 affair against Virginia Tech, was by a one score margin.
Miami (7-1, 6-1) last played on November 14th at Virginia Tech, a contest that the Hurricanes barely were able to play due to COVID-19 positive tests and contact tracing. UM beat the Hokies 25-24 in a dramatic fourth quarter comeback win.
Two days after that win at Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes announced the postponement of two games that were scheduled against Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, due to positive tests and contact tracing. UM also had to push back a game that was scheduled against North Carolina.
As of now, Miami’s games against North Carolina on December 12th and Georgia Tech on December 19th are still scheduled.
Head coach Manny Diaz, who announced on social media that he had tested positive for COVID-19 following the Virginia Tech game, spoke to the media for the first time since that game last week.
“I am feeling a little better,” Diaz said. “It’s remarkable of just the wide variety of different stories and variety of symptoms with this virus, but the days are getting better as we are going on and that’s been good.”
The facilities have primarily been closed since the Nov. 16 announcement of postponements. The UM athletic department has allowed players that have previously tested positive and recovered to use the facility for conditioning purposes.
“We’ve just had a very small group of prior positives who have been able to do some outdoor socially-distance running just to get conditioning, but we’re really just taking the same course we did in the summer time,” Diaz said. “We’re listening to our medical people and when they allow us to increase the people who can come in the building, we’re increasing it slowly but surely. Hopefully we can incrementally do that throughout the course of the week and build to get just about everybody back in some way, shape, or form at the beginning of next week and then just further clearance to be ready to practice and ready to play.”
Miami expects to return to practice on Monday and Diaz plans to be present for that session, but he admitted he was unsure at that time which players would be available to practice.
“I will be there in person,” Diaz said. “I’ll be back when we get back on the field. In terms of what it looks like, we’ve got to plan all of that and we have to figure out who all we have back, not just player-wise, but staff-wise. We’re still five days away and still waiting on if they’re symptomatic, are they not symptomatic, you’ve got a timer on people who can come back in 10 days, some people come back in 14 days. We can talk more on Monday because to be honest if I told you right now, I’ll tell you I’ll be there, but I don’t know too much other than that.”
This 2020 season has been an undoubtedly difficult one to navigate for every football program in the country. Diaz is happy to get more opportunities to coach this team in more games as the season winds down.
“I want to play as many football games with this team as I can,” Diaz said last week. “I love coaching this team. I love watching the way they play for each other. If they let us play 10 more games, I’d love to play 10 more games. How could you not want to be around this football team and I think we all appreciate it a little bit more being apart the last few days. We understand that every game we have left is not promised to us and we look at it as a blessing.”
“We are thankful that we’ve played eight, we’re thankful that we’re 7-1 and ranked 10th, but we do have a bunch of guys who want to go out there and play for each other and play for Miami.”