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5 questions concerning the Miami-Duke football finale

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Five questions to ponder about the UM-Duke game.

Do the Hurricanes have a shot at being ranked with a strong finish?

Maybe. They got one vote in the coach’s poll this week. That’s a start, right?

Miami is looking for its fourth straight win against Duke Saturday, and three of its four losses are by a touchdown or less. All it in all, it hasn’t been a bad first-season for coach Mark Richt. A win against Duke, and another one in a bowl game, and the Hurricanes could squeeze in at the tail end of the Top 25.

Is there any chance that quarterback Brad Kaaya returns for his senior season?

There has been that kind of noise around the program lately, but frankly, it’s hard to see. The risk of injury to a potential No. 1 draft pick is simply too great.

What will be the key to Saturday’s game?

Just a hunch, but how about the pass rush of the Hurricanes. Miami is 23rd in the nation in sacks, and Duke is only 99th at preventing them. If the Hurricanes can harass quarterback Daniel Jones. If the defense holds up its end, quarterback Brad Kaaya and running back Mark Walter should combine to keep the Devils’ off-balance. Kaaya is sixth in the nation in passing yards.

Is Duke good enough to win?

With a few breaks, sure. The Blue Devils beat North Carolina earlier in the season. But Duke ranks only 60th in total defense. Miami should be able to find its way to the end zone.

Shouldn’t the Hurricanes play a traditional rival at the end of the season?

Maybe, but who is left? Florida and FSU play each other. UCF and USF play each other. Unless new coach Butch Davis can get FIU going in a hurry, who’s left? Miami of Ohio?

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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