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Miami Returns to Durham

By Carlos Pineda
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The 44,000-seat stadium served as the site of the controversial “Miracle in Durham” where two years ago, the Hurricanes used an eight-lateral kickoff return to score the winning touchdown as time expired.

Miami is set to return to Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium on Friday night.

The 44,000-seat stadium served as the site of the controversial “Miracle in Durham” where two years ago, the Hurricanes used an eight-lateral kickoff return to score the winning touchdown as time expired.

The 49-second play produced one of college football’s most thrilling endings.

The game-winning kickoff return is likely to be replayed various times throughout Friday night's broadcast on ESPN (7 p.m. ET), but the bigger picture will be what's at stake, with the winner getting the inside track atop the Coastal standings.

The Miami-Duke game is one of two games across the ACC featuring unbeaten teams. The other game being No. 2 Clemson versus No. 12 Virginia Tech.

Duke, with its 27-17 win last week at North Carolina improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2014, and sixth time since 1960. A win over Miami would not only give them two victories over Coastal teams that were picked to finish ahead of them in the preseason poll, but would also put Duke at 5-0 for the first time since 1994.

Miami opens up conference play on the road for the eighth time in the past nine seasons. They are 7-6 all-time in league openers since joining the ACC in 2004. UM won its latest ACC opener at Georgia Tech 35-21 in 2016.

The Hurricanes were scheduled to play two road games prior to facing Duke, but due to Hurricane Irma, the game against Arkansas State (Sept. 9) was cancelled, and the Florida State game (Sept. 16) was rescheduled for Oct. 7, making Friday's game the team's first road game of the year.

Last week, Miami knocked off Toledo 52-30 to improve to 2-0 following a three-week layoff.

Friday's game will feature two offenses that rank first and second in the ACC in scoring, with the Canes averaging 46.5 points, and the Blue Devils closely behind with 40.5 points.

Miami running back Mark Walton leads an offense ranked eighth nationally in scoring, and 11th in rushing (285.5). The junior back ranks third in the country averaging 176 yards per game. Against the Toledo Rockets he was lights out, rushing for a career-best 204 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Last year, Walton rushed for over 1,000 yards and currently sits in 14th place all-time at Miami with 1,930 career rush yards.

Under center, Malik Rosier will be making his fourth career start in a familiar setting. It was in Durham two years that he made his first start. Filling in for an injured Brad Kaaya, Rosier threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns in Miami's 30-27 win. The redshirt junior was named the starting QB during the final week of fall camp, and has passed for 550 yards and six touchdowns this year.

Duke ranks among the best in the conference in total defense (2nd), scoring defense (4th) and rushing defense (1st). The Blue Devils have the nation's second-rated rush defense, allowing 65.2 yards. Linebacker Joe Giles-Harris leads the team with 34 tackles, and Mike Ramsay, Duke's lone returning on the defensive front, has a team-high 3.5 sacks.

The Duke offense is led by sophomore quarterback Daniel Jones, who has thrown for 904 yards with five touchdowns. Senior running back Shaun Wilson has rushed for 349 yards and five touchdowns.

The Hurricanes come into the Duke game having won seven in a row dating back to last November, and have won three straight in the series, including last year's regular season finale, 40-21. 

Carlos Pineda - Carlos Pineda is a featured writer for Southern Pigskin. He covered the UCF Knights football team for Florida Today in 2010. Carlos' work has been published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Business Journal. He attended the University of Central Florida. Follow Carlos on Twitter @CarlosFPineda.