Miami embarrassed at home by Middle Tennessee, 45-31

New coach, same old Miami.

Miami brought Mario Cristobal home from Oregon to vault the Hurricanes back into an upper tier program in the national landscape. Getting embarrassed at home by Middle Tennessee was not part of that plan.

On the heels of a road loss to Texas A&M, Miami came out completely flat and got punked by Middle Tennessee, 45-31. This is a Middle Tennessee team that lost 44-7 to James Madison a few weeks ago, yet the Blue Raiders were able to come in and continually decimate the Miami secondary with deep balls.

Chase Cunningham threw touchdown passes of 71, 69 and 98 yards in the win. Cunningham completed only 16 passes, and those went for a whopping 408 yards.

The MTSU lead was 17-3 after one quarter and 24-10 at halftime. In the third quarter, hyped Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was benched and backup Jake Garcia seemed to give the Hurricanes some life.

With the score 31-17, Garcia drove Miami all the way to the goal line but was unable to get the Hurricanes into the end zone to cut the deficit to just seven points. Miami was stuffed on two runs from the 1-yard line and then Garcia’s pass for Will Mallory on fourth down fell incomplete.

Backed up in its own end zone after the goal line stand, Middle Tennessee wasn’t content to simply get some breathing room and run some clock. Cunningham went back to the air and bombed one down the left sideline to DJ England-Chisolm for a 98-yard touchdown.

That highlight reel touchdown gave the Blue Raiders a 38-17 lead with 14:45 to play. Miami would twice get the deficit to 14 points, but just could not get the stops it needed to make the comeback as MTSU would complete a monstrous upset.

For Miami, the loss has to be a significant look in the mirror moment. The Hurricanes, like many other seasons, came into the year with a lot of hype. Cristobal was aggressive in adding to the roster and Hurricanes are one of the most aggressive in NIL.

After all of that offseason fanfare, Miami is now 2-2 to start Cristobal’s first season as head coach. A loss to Texas A&M is defensible, but what was on display on Saturday is not.

Middle Tennessee was the tougher team. Miami’s offensive line struggled both in the run game and protecting its quarterbacks. The Hurricanes rushed for only 68 yards and surrendered eight tackles for loss and four sacks. Van Dyke, hyped as a possible fiirst rounder, looked pedestrian and his backup, Garcia, wasn’t too much better. The defense, meanwhile, allowed 512 yards of offense to a Blue Raiders team that was averaging just 311.3 yards per game entering Saturday.

It was just an ugly day for Miami and the Hurricanes have a ton to figure out in the bye week before ACC play begins vs. North Carolina on Oct. 8.