Before the season started, most ACC fans circled this game between Virginia Tech and Miami as a must-see game that would likely be the de facto Coastal Championship game.
Instead, both teams have seen their seasons fall apart with Virginia Tech losing three-straight and Miami losing four-straight coming into this matchup. Both teams have seen their Coastal hopes crumble over the past few weeks while both also really need a win this week to make a bowl game with Virginia Tech facing Virginia and possibly Marshall while Miami hosts Coastal leader Pittsburgh in their final game.
Both teams have a lot at stake, but it’s not nearly what either imagined they would be playing for when this game was announced in late November. With that said, here is our preview and pick for today’s game.
The Hokies and Hurricanes have both gone through seasons of disappointment with the past few weeks being nightmares for both programs. For one of these two teams, their season will continue to head in a disastrous direction that could end last week while the winner will salvage the bare minimum of a bowl season.
Virginia Tech’s defense has struggled immensely in recent weeks with the injuries continuing to pile up with star DE Houshun Gaines and backup DT Xavier Burke both being ruled out for the rest of the season this week. This comes with a Miami team that will look to replicate the success Pittsburgh had last week especially with their quarterback problems that have been a big reason why the Hurricanes have struggled.
Miami’s one-two punch of Travis Homer and Deejay Dallas have done well this season with both tailbacks averaging at least 5.5 yards per carry this season. The Hokies will need their front 7 to do a better job of simply doing their jobs and trying to contain the running game. The good news for the Hokies is that they should have starting DT Jarrod Hewitt and starting LB Rayshard Ashby back this week in addition to Dylan Rivers, who may have a hard time taking his job back from Dax Hollifield.
Miami has settled on N’Kosi Perry at QB ove rthe past two weeks, but the Hurricanes will definitely look for their running game to lead the way this week against a reeling Virginia Tech defense that has gotten younger with less depth every week recently.
Meanwhile, the Hokies are the opposite of Miami on offense with a passing game leading the way as Ryan Willis had 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Meanwhile, the Hokies’ rushing attack has had their struggles averaging only 4.3 yards per carry though Steven Peoples has been improved this season. However, the Hokies could have a hard time running the ball against a front 7 loaded with playmakers including star DT Gerald Willis III and LB Shaq Quartermann with a trio of Hurricanes having double-digit tackles for loss.
Offensively, Virginia Tech will need to take some shots down the field to try to utilize their bigger receivers including Damon Hazelton. However, those receivers and the passing game will face their biggest challenge with Miami having 13 interceptions so far this season. Willis will have to be responsible with the football, but the Hokies will also have to take some chances against the Miami defense to prevent the Hurricanes from cheating up around the line of scrimmage.
On paper, Miami is rightfully the slight favorite, but this is still a home game for a young Virginia Tech team that hasn’t appeared to check out on the season. This game may come down to which team decides to show up in their midst of their disappointing season and that may be the x-factor for the Hokies.
While the Hokies’ defense will give up lots of yardage, the Hokies will find a way to keep the Hurricanes out of the endzone and force turnovers while the Hokies’ offense, ninth in the country in red zone efficiency, will do enough to give the Hokies their first home win over an FBS team since last year’s thrilling goal-line stand victory over Pittsburgh, keeping their bowl hopes alive.