After suffering an embarrassing 45-10 loss at home to Duke, the Virginia Tech Hokies are headed on the road to face a Miami team that is coming off a bye and looking for its first ACC win of the season as well. The Hokies are almost two touchdown underdogs with the Hurricanes being the heavy favorite, but Virginia Tech has pulled off plenty of surprises before.
With that said, here's our staff's picks for this week's game between the Hokies and Hurricanes.
Even with Miami not looking as good as expected, it's hard to really consider taking Virginia Tech in this game.
One positive going in is the fact that the Hokies are at least making some sort of significant change with Hendon Hooker replacing Ryan Willis as the starting QB. The legitimate running threat that Hooker brings to the table adds a new element to this offense that could make a difference if set up properly by Brad Cornelsen, something that few have confidence in given what we've see to date.
If the Hokies are going to have a shot, they have to be able to stretch the field with their passing game to create space for the jet sweeps and underneath passing routes that can work when opponents can't sit in a bear-like defense with almost everyone in the box or near the line of scrimmage. Additionally, Virginia Tech has to take advantage of Miami's struggling offensive line and get some sort of pressure on Jarren Williams.
Expect this game to be relatively close in the first half, but the Hurricanes will wear the Hokies' defense down and open up the score while another poor offensive performance will give Miami a comfortable victory.
Pick: Miami 31, Virginia Tech 13
As mentioned in my three keys, there is a path to Virginia Tech pulling off an upset on Saturday afternoon in Coral Gables. The Hurricanes are the better team, and have been more consistent than Virginia Tech in the opening month, but are not without their issues, as displayed by their uninspiring 17-12 win over Central Michigan two weeks ago. Miami has had strong quarterback play out of freshman Jarren Williams, but has thrown the ball into some tight windows throughout the first month of the season, with opposing defenses dropping a handful of interceptions to date.
Virginia Tech as a whole hasn't done a great job in regards to the turnover margin, as the Hokies rank among the worst in college football in giveaways, and not much better in takeaways. If the Hokies can limit their turnovers on Saturday and get something going on the ground (a tall task against a stout Miami front), they should have every opportunity to win this game.
The Hokies haven't played well this season, and it's been inconsistent. But contrary to popular belief from talking heads and rival coaches that the Hokies are "lacking talent", I still think that there is more than enough pure talent on the roster from three consecutive top 30 recruiting classes to hang with this inconsistent Miami bunch. I think the Hurricanes will win, but Tech should play better than they did a week ago when the bottom fell out at Lane Stadium. 'Canes win, but Hokies cover.
Pick: Miami 23, Virginia Tech 17
If you were told that both of these programs had zero ACC wins heading into this matchup back in August, you would think that the unbelievable has happened. Virginia Tech and Miami came into the 2019 season expecting to compete for the ACC Coastal crown and a chance to return to Miami for an Orange Bowl, but the season has not turned out the way both teams have been hoping for. This Saturday, both programs are seeking an opportunity to turn their season around in a battle for relevance.
For Miami, the season got off to a rough start in a sloppy game withFlorida followed by a two minute collapse to North Carolina. The Hurricanes have turned it around as of lately and have worked their way back to .500 with wins over Bethune-Cookman and Central Michigan. QB Jarren Williams has had a quality start to 2019 with a perfect TD/INT ratio of 7-0 and over 1,000 passing yards, but has taken some hits from the holes in his offensive line which has allowed eighteen sacks through four games.
For Virginia Tech, all the attention will be around QB Hendon Hooker who will be making his first career start for the Hokies. Hooker, who replaces Ryan Willis, will try to help with the offensive struggles and ball security issues that has damaged the Hokies for the first four games of the season. Virginia Tech will also need to step up on the defensive side of the ball after allowing four hundred and twenty-two total yards and six touchdowns to Duke last weekend.
Looking at this matchup, there are still plenty of questions surrounding both of these programs that should be in much better positions than they are currently at. I have not seen much confidence from Virginia Tech on both sides of the ball to have a strong opportunity at defeating Miami this weekend. We might see a boost offensively at quarterback with Hooker, but there are still too many holes in Virginia Tech to take down the Hurricanes this weekend at Coral Gables.