College football takeaways: Miami is a force to be reckoned with

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September 22nd, 2020

It was a slow week for college football, with only a single matchup between Top 25 teams, but the action will pick up significantly as the SEC begins play this weekend.

Here are my three takeaways from Week 3.

Miami offense steps forward

Miami’s defense was the strong suit of the team, but the Hurricanes struggled offensively behind poor quarterback play last year.

Enter graduate transfer quarterback D’Eriq King, who lit up Louisville’s secondary with three touchdowns Saturday, and the Hurricanes are suddenly improved.

Graduate transfer kicker Jose Borregales, who made a 57-yard field goal look easy, represents an enormous upgrade from a terrible kicking situation last season. He combines with elite punter Lou Hedley to give Miami one of the nation’s best special-team units.

Louisville’s defense performed terribly, so we won't get carried away with Miami’s new high-tempo offensive attack under first-year offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, but the Canes have some interesting pieces.

Starting running back Cam’Ron Harris played well, broke off big gains, and totaled 134 rushing yards on nine carries. Miami also utilizes a pair of exciting freshman backs, Donald Chaney Jr. and Jaylan Knighton, and the latter displayed his blazing speed when he took a screen pass for a 75-yard touchdown.

Miami ranked 16th in total defense last season, and the stop unit will be formidable once again under head coach Manny Diaz.

King must continue to work on his accuracy (60% completion rate Saturday), but I underestimated his ability to throw downfield. He outplayed counterpart Malik Cunningham, and Miami is dangerous with a viable offense (it ranked 99th in scoring offense in 2019).

Louisville possesses dynamic weapons, and Javian Hawkins (164 rushing yards) and Tutu Atwell (114 receiving yards) starred against Miami, but the offensive line looked shaky and defensive shortcomings were exploited in Week 3.

Group of Five records fourth win over Power Five

Central Florida disposed of Georgia Tech, 49-21, to give the "Group of Five" conferences their fourth victory over a "Power Five" rival. Teams from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, and Sun Belt have posted a respectable 4-5 record against foes from the ACC and Big 12 over the past two weeks.

In Week 2, Arkansas State prevailed, 35-31, at Kansas State, as a 13-point underdog. Louisiana-Lafayette won, 31-14, at Iowa State, as an 11.5-point underdog. Coastal Carolina rolled, 38-23, at Kansas, as a seven-point underdog.

Central Florida, ranked 13th in the AP Top 25, won as a 7.5-point favorite, and sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel delivered a sharp effort, with a career-best 417 passing yards and four touchdowns. The Knights, who posted 35 wins over the last three years, continue to be high powered offensively.

Letdown loss avoided

Ranked for the first time since 1943, Louisiana-Lafayette was focused upon avoiding a letdown following a big upset win at Iowa State, but couldn’t bring the same energy to Saturday’s game at Georgia State. The Ragin’ Cajins trailed, 21-7, in the third quarter but rallied back into contention, and they wound up with a 34-31 overtime win.

Elijah Mitchell led the way with 164 rushing yards, and Levi Lewis overcame some uneven play through the first 2 1/2 quarters, and a pair of interceptions, to finish with 279 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Louisiana-Lafayette is now ranked 19th in the AP Top 25.

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