Last year in Lane Stadium, the Virginia Tech Hokies made their return to primetime Thursday night in what was seen as the big home game on campus. However, the Hokies came out flat while Miami came out looking to make a statement against one of their biggest rivals.
By the end of the game, Lane Stadium was mostly empty and some boos came from the few remaining Hokie fans as Virginia Tech was demolished by Miami 30-6.
This year, the Hokies have a chance to get some revenge in a matchup that pits two head coaches in Frank Beamer and Al Golden that are desperate to get wins with both feeling the heat this season. This is also an old-school Big East rivalry between two programs that have played each other in much bigger matchups before.
However, today’s matchup is critical for both teams with the winner in the ACC Coastal hunt and the loser starting their fight to just make a bowl game this season. The Hokies and Hurricanes have the talent, but the question comes down to who will show up with emotion.
With that said, let’s get to the prediction.
We will likely not find out if Michael Brewer will make his return until very close to kickoff with Brewer once again being listed as probable all week. The Virginia Tech passing offense will be more effective with Brewer, but Brenden Motley has proven that he can get the job done.
The strength of the Miami defense is in a veteran secondary led by senior cornerback Tracy Howard who will likely be matched up with star Virginia Tech WR Isaiah Ford. Ford has been one of the ACC’s best wide receivers with an ACC-leading 421 receiving yards and third-best 70.2 receiving yards per game.
Ford is playing in his home state of Florida for the first time in his career, and will be looking to put on a show against the Hurricanes. No one should be surprised if Ford has another big game after having three receiving touchdowns last week.
Miami’s rush defense has been suspect this season with Dalvin Cook rushing for over 200 yards and carrying the Seminoles to victory over the Hurricanes last week. This week, Travon McMillian will be looking to have a big game, but it will be up to the Virginia Tech offensive line to step up.
McMillian is averaging 7.4 yards per carry so far and has shown the big-play speed that could give Miami fans nightmares if the Virginia Tech offensive line gets the job done. The question is will the Virginia Tech offensive line play like it did last week against N.C. State or two weeks ago against Pittsburgh?
Virginia Tech’s rush defense has started to play better, but they will be tested some by Miami running back Joseph Yearby. Andrew Motuapuaka and Deon Clarke have made some big plays, but the Hokies will need Motuapuaka and Clarke to be consistent in run defense against a Miami team that is still good on the ground.
Virginia Tech’s secondary will be challenged by Miami’s Brad Kaaya who has some talent at wide receiver led by Rashawn Scott. The Hokies will likely have Brandon Facyson on Scott and the redshirt sophomore cornerback has been playing better and better every week as he continues to gain confidence.
Meanwhile, Ken Ekanem finally got his first sack of the season last week and had a big game with nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. Ekanem has some confidence and could be set for a very strong finish to the season as someone that had been looking to breakthrough for weeks.
This matchup has the potential to be a blowout either way depending on the emotion that both teams bring to the table. This will be a good game, but the Hokies will come out with the emotion that they need and prove that they are alive in the ACC Coastal no matter if Brenden Motley or Michael Brewer is the quarterback.