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Miami Hurricanes Football Game Preview: Virginia Tech Hokies

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The show must go on, and the ACC Coastal is still anyone's to win.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

UM (3-2, 0-1)  hosts Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1) Saturday (3:30 PM EST ESPNU) in what could essentially boil down to an elimination game for both in the Division.

ACC Coastal OVR CONF
Duke 5-1 2-0
Pittsburgh 4-1 2-0
North Carolina 4-1 1-0
Virginia Tech 3-3 1-1
Miami (FL) 3-2 0-1
Virginia 1-4 0-1
Georgia Tech 2-4 0-3

Sure, crazier things have happened (especially in this division).  And both teams still do have Coastal leader Duke on the schedule.

Nonetheless the loser is going to be in a deep, deep hole.

Neither program's coaching staffs are necessarily feeling safe these days either.

Another week, another expected banner above Sun Life Stadium calling for Al Golden's job. Coming close against FSU will not help his cause.

And the once revered Frank Beamer is even hearing his name among the list of coaches on the hot seat, with his program already owning losses to Pitt and East Carolina in 2015.

So what you have hear are two very desperate teams.

The winner will have some respite, knowing they can still salvage their season and fight for a trip to Charlotte.

The loser knows the season is in danger of their campaign snowballing into a complete disaster.

No pressure or anything.

Here's what to look for on the field.

When Miami has the football:  Moving the ball is no problem for this offense.  However, converting third downs and red zone opportunities have been an issues all season.  UM was finally a solid 8-16 against the Noles last weekend on 3rd downs. Brad Kaaya was sensational, and repeatedly found Stacy Coley and Rashawn Scott for big plays. But the O was one dimensional. Joe Yearby and the ground game never got going. And the FSU front 7 was in Kaaya's face far too often for comfort.  In VT they face a very stiff front featuring DT Luther Maddy, LB Deon Clarke,  and DE Dadi Nicholas (though he has had a quiet season this far).  If Trevor Darling does not elevate his play, this could be another long afternoon for the guys up front. Kc McDermott needs to see more snaps in place of struggling RT Sunny Odogwu as well.  Nonetheless, given Kaaya's prowess even when under duress, I think this 'Canes O should put some points on the board Vs the Hokies.   Rover Adonis Alexander (3 INT) though a freshman,   needs to be accounted for.

When VT has the football:  The Hurricanes D looked helpless in the first half against Dalvin Cook and the Seminoles, but they found some life in the second half behind DEs Al-Quadin Muhammad and Chad Thomas. Hopefully they can build off that performance. VT has no one as explosive as Cook, but WR Isiah Ford (3 TDs last weekend) is good enough to be a pain.  His match-up with Corn Elder and/or Artie Burns should be fun to watch. Miami's D has struggled to consistently stop the run most of the season.  Look for Beamer's squad to look to protect QB Brenden Motley (or Michael Brewer if available) as much as possible by running the ball with emerging back Travon McMillian and lots of jet sweeps.  If Miami can stop the run, they should dominate.  That is a big "if" though.

Prediction:  Yearby gets going behind an angry and determined O line.  This makes things easier for Kaaya, who stays hot.  The UM D surrenders some yards, but plays more inspired ball.  The Hurricanes season avoids a complete implode, and they get a desperately needed 31-21 win.