While it's certainly been a disappointing season for Miami, the Hurricanes came up big in arguably their biggest game of the year last time out as they went on the road and resoundingly took down arch-rival Florida State 27-10. Now Manny Diaz's troops look to maintain momentum Saturday in their home finale against a Louisville team that comes in fresh off a bye, with both schools needing one more victory for bowl eligibility.
"Winning on the road against your rival, that's one of the most special nights you have," Diaz told reporters afterward. "We're becoming what we thought we could become as a team. And to do it at Doak Campbell Stadium, like I said, I couldn't be more proud." The defense rose to the occasion against Florida State, suffocating the Seminoles with season highs of nine sacks (the most ever surrendered by Florida State in a single game) and 16 tackles for loss, finally performing to expectations after an up-and-down season to keep Miami's slim hopes alive in the ACC Coastal Division race. Louisville, meanwhile, wasn't even expected to be in position for a potential bowl berth after winning just two games a year ago, but new coach Scott Satterfield has his team battling hard and the result has been three tight wins in the last four games, including an impressive 28-21 triumph against Virginia before the bye. "It's the elephant in the room," Satterfield said. "You don't go to try and get bowl eligible because if you focus on that you're not going to get it. Any one of these teams can beat us that we play. We have to focus everything that we have on Miami and you hope at the end of the season that what you've done is good enough to warrant a nice bowl."
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Miami -6.5
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (5-3, 3-2 ACC): Quarterback Micale Cunningham is beginning to take command of the Cardinals offense, using his arm (1,009 passing yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs) and legs (313 yards, 4 TDs) to keep defenses off balance, with his best effort coming against Virginia's tough defense last time out. Running back Javian Hawkins (887 yards, 6 TDs) will also need to come up big against Miami's quick linebackers to take pressure off the passing game, while the defense needs to avoid giving up big plays, which was a big reason for the unit's success against the Cavaliers. "Number one, I don't think we're good enough to go and blow teams out. We have to fight and claw for everything we get," Satterfield told reporters. "That's why every yard we get, we're not sliding, we're trying to get it. That's the way we are offensively. And then defensively, Coach (Bryan) Brown is trying to call the right defense for every scenario. You almost feel like you've got to make the right call every single time in order to give our kids the best chance to win football games. We're a scrappy bunch."
ABOUT MIAMI (5-4, 3-3): It all starts up front with an offensive line that has come a long way since giving up 10 sacks to Florida in the opener, allowing just two sacks in each of the last two games in wins over Pittsburgh and Florida State while helping open holes for the ground game. Jarren Williams returned to the starting lineup against the Seminoles and produced his best performance with a career-high 313 yards passing and two touchdowns with no interceptions, connecting on deep passes of 56, 39 and 32 yards. The defense is playing its best football of the season of late, giving up a total of 31 points to Virginia (9), Pittsburgh (12) and Florida State (10), with defensive end Greg Rousseau leading the way with 15.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, four coming against the Seminoles.
1. The Hurricanes own a 9-3-1 lead in this series, including a 5-0-1 mark in Miami, with the teams' last meeting in 2014 in Louisville's first football game as a member of the ACC.
2. Miami held the Seminoles to just 203 total yards, including 31 rushing yards.
3. Louisville has an interception in four straight games for the first time since 2016.