We finally made it. This is the game I’ve been waiting for. Miami hosts Virginia Tech at 8pm on ABC this Saturday. The Canes will be wearing black uniforms and the hype will be massive all week. If Georgia Tech beats Virginia on Saturday afternoon, Miami can clinch the ACC Coastal with a win over Virginia Tech.
Heading into last weekend, the early indications were that Miami would be favored by 3-5 points against the Hokies. Miami struggled against a dreadful UNC team and that performance has clearly altered the perception of the Hurricanes. Despite the close win in Chapel Hill, I still expected the Canes to be a small favorite at home. I’m always hesitant to overreact to one game in college football, especially on the road. Seeing Virginia Tech as almost a field goal favorite is very surprising - it implies the Hokies would be 7-10 points better than Miami in Blacksburg. I think the teams are evenly matched and would give the Canes a small edge with the game at Hard Rock Stadium.
Miami is only giving up 18.7 points per game. The Canes defense is 3rd in the nation in TFL, 6th in turnover margin, and 4th in sacks. Virginia Tech’s defense has been just as impressive, allowing just 11.5 points per game, 2nd in the nation.
Both offenses have protected the ball well this season - each has just 6 turnovers. Miami QB Malik Rosier has thrown for 2071 yards with 17 TD and 4 INT. VT QB Josh Jackson has thrown for 2032 yards with 17 TD and 4 INT. Both first year starters are having nearly identical seasons statistically.
Miami is a difficult team to figure out, with four wins in October by a combined 18 points. It’s been stressful for fans, but learning to close out games in the second half has given this team confidence. I loved the stat I saw yesterday from David Hale at ESPN - Miami is 2nd in the country in Strength of Record, which looks at how an average top 25 team would perform against your schedule. Miami’s six FBS wins have come against teams with a combined record of 22-26.
The Hokies haven’t played a close game since a September 3rd win against West Virginia. After the opener, Virginia Tech won six games convincingly and lost by two touchdowns to Clemson. The six FBS teams the Hokies have beaten have a combined record of 19-32. Virginia Tech has only played in two true road games this season - a trip to East Carolina (2-6 this year) and a visit to Boston College (before the Eagles suddenly figured out how to play offense). This Saturday’s game against Miami will be the biggest road test by far for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech being a road favorite will get a lot of attention this week - we’ll see where it ends up before kickoff. Miami is ranked 6th in the coaches poll, but dropped to 9th in the AP poll. The playoff rankings might not give the Canes much respect tomorrow night. Who cares. None of it matters. Don’t waste one second of energy debating the rankings or worrying about them right now. Everything is there for the taking for the Hurricanes. A win Saturday likely earns Miami a Coastal title. Wins over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame would ensure a Top 4 ranking. Everything will work itself out in the next 12 days. Remain confident and focus on what you can control - packing Hard Rock Stadium and giving the Canes the best possible home field advantage.