clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Matchup of the Week: Virginia Edition

Miami is coming off of one of the craziest wins in school history and riding their momentum into their homecoming game against Virginia in a must-win matchup.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports



The Canes won an absolutely unbelievable game last weekend vs. then-No. 22 Duke on a very, very, muy controversial play. If you know a Duke fan, send that to them again. You can tell them it's from me.

Before I get into the game preview, I want to comment and say that that game meant everything for Miami. It was a big win, nonetheless, over a good, ranked, Duke football team on the road on prime time television. It was one hell of an effort by the Canes, led by a gutsy performance from backup quarterback Malik Rosier. Now, let's move forward, regroup, and focus on what it takes to beat Virginia.

The Hurricanes (5-3, 2-2 ACC) face the Virginia Cavaliers (3-5, 2-2) Saturday at Sun Life Stadium at 3:30 p.m. The loser of this game is all but eliminated from the ACC Coastal Division title. In order for Miami to have any shot to win the Coastal, they will HAVE to win out, and will need some help. But let's focus on the task at hand: beating UVA. Here is what happened the last time they played:

=(...Whatever, we're past that dreadful season...I think.

In the past four seasons (Golden's tenure), Miami is 1-3 against Virginia...Mike London is 4-1 against Miami...MIKE LONDON! For some reason, even though we probably know what that reason is/was, London has always had the Canes' number when playing. The struggles Miami has had against UVA baffle me. Yes, Miami was bad a few seasons ago, and yes, Virginia's defense was actually legit last year, but Miami can't win against VIRGINIA?! That is unacceptable, especially with the UVA teams that have taken the field since London took over.

Miami Rush Defense vs. Virginia Rush Offense

This wasn't my first thought for the matchup to look out for, but then I came across a stat that scares me immensely.

That's refreshing.../sarcasm font.

To put that into works, Virginia has been tearing it up on the ground in their past two Coastal matchups, going 1-1 in those contests. The Cavs have been using a running-back-by-committee approach, with four backs getting over 30 yards in their win over Georgia Tech and two over 70 yards in their loss to UNC. Virginia is only averaging 138.9 rushing yards per game, good for 106th in the country. Their season stats show that they aren't much of a threat on the ground, but their previous two games, they have seemed to have figured things out on the ground against two below-average rushing defenses.

Naturally, Miami has a bad rush defense what feels like forever, and that trend is continuing with the Canes allowing 200.3 rush ypg, which is good for 99th in the country. From a statistical standpoint, it seems like the Miami defense will be in for another long day if they cannot stop the UVA ground attack. Versus Duke, Miami allowed 182 rushing yards, slightly below their season average. Time and time again, they just played inconsistently at times and displayed a couple drives of poor tackling. Other teams/players are going to make plays, that is why they are D1 athletes, but that third-quarter Jela Duncan touchdown run should have never happened. Watch that play again and highlight Corn Elder and Dallas Crawford giving poor efforts.

The players Miami need to watch out for the most are Virginia QB Matt Johns and RB Taquan "Smoke" Mizzell. Johns has thrown for 1,755 yards on the year, but has also thrown 13 interceptions to his 13 touchdowns. The only game he hasn't thrown an interception was against Notre Dame, and has thrown five in his past two games. Mizzell is a playmaker himself, leading the team in rushing yards and receptions. UVA wants the ball in his hands. The Canes will have to make it a priority to shut him down and make the Cavs one-dimensional, something they failed to do last year.


The Canes are coming off of a HUGE win at Duke, but that is behind everyone now. It is imperative that Miami moves forward and focuses on dominating Virginia for 60 minutes. Their defense is better than the Virginia offense and they're offense is better than the Virginia defense. But what team will show up? The Miami team that showed up agasint Duke and FSU wasn't the team that showed up against Cincy and No. 1 Clemson. Miami has to play fast, physical football and use this home game and momentum to their advantage. Also, this game outcome will depend on the health of Brad Kaaya. Miami showed they can get it done without their sophomore QB, but it is no doubt that he is the leader of that offense and gives them the best chance to win. If Kaaya is healthy, Miami should cruise to a relatively easy victory. As for a score, Miami - 31, Virginia - 20