2011: 4-3 (1-2)
Last week's game: Fresh off a home victory over previously undefeated Georgia Tech in what was probably the biggest win in the career of head coach Mike London, the Cavs got ran out of the building by North Carolina State. Wolfpack quarterback Not Russell Wilson Bot 1.1 threw three touchdown passes, and the Pack defense held the Cavs to under 250 total yards. UVA tried out two quarterbacks, both of whom were awful, and they couldn't really get their running game going either... really it was a miracle that they even scored 14 points. But a team like this is going to have its ups and downs.
Last year's meeting: Virginia 24 Miami 19 Who could forget? The UVA defense knocked Jacory Harris out early in the game, and a sputtering first team offense left a broken team in a 14 point hole. That deficit grew to 24 before Stephen Morris hit Leonard Hankerson on a touchdown and ran in for a score himself, cutting the deficit to 12. The Canes then recovered an onside kick and immediately hit Travis Benjamin for a 60-yard touchdown to bring UVA's lead to five. But the Canes defense just could not get off the field, leading to one of the most outright depressing losses of the Randy Shannon era. In fact, Miami's uninspired play, near miracle comeback and ultimate failure to win was a good microcosm of Shannon's entire tenure at UM.
Offense: ACC football, where you can still be okay even if your quarterback throws double the amount of interceptions as touchdowns. That QB -- UVA sophomore Michael Rocco -- has been "efficient" this year, completing about 60% of his passes, but his 6.52 yards per attempt and 1:2 TD/INT ratio are horrendous. For some reason, UVA is a pretty balanced team (282 rushes to 255 passes) even though they have three backs averaging over five yards per carry. The leader in the backfield is the spry Perry Jones (not the basketball player), who is tops in rushes, rushing yards, and second on the whole team in catches. Around the goalline we'll see freshman back Kevin Parks, who has produced seven touchdowns in just 74 carries.
Defense: So how do the Cavs win any games? Well, their defense is one of the best in the ACC (the other, unsurprisingly, is 150 miles southwest in Blacksburg). Seven Cavs starters are seniors, including three on the line and three in the defensive backfield. Starting corner Chase Minnifield will be a fringe first rounder in the NFL Draft next April, and if whomever he draws (likely Tommy Streeter or Travis Benjamin) will have one of their toughest tasks all year. They give up an average of 23 points per game, but even that is a bit deceiving considering the situations they are put in by their offense.
Match up in Miami's favor: Not to beat a dead linebacker who can barely walk because he's been on the field so much because his offense sucks, but Virginia cannot pass the ball. Though the Canes defense was incredibly impressive last Saturday against Georgia Tech, it's still not known if that was a one game aberration or if the defense has truly turned a corner. But with the Canes keying on UVA's running game, and the defensive line as healthy as it has been or will be all season, and UVA's inability to pass... well, the Cavs shouldn't score many points. If they can't run the ball right through Miami's defense, they have no real chance of winning.
Match up in Miami's favor: Beats me! Virginia is a decent team who has shown the ability to pull off an upset, but they're utterly unspectacular overall, and while their defense has been good this year, the Canes offense is currently one of the few elite offenses in the country when measured by efficiency. Obviously, with a team as young and patchy in places as UM, anything can happen, but it's hard to find a spot where UVA can take over this game, barring a bunch of spectacular screw ups by the Canes. Or, you know, Jacory Harris getting knocked out of the game.