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After a stunning loss against Liberty last week, Virginia Tech looks to bounce back today, something that Justin Fuente teams have done quite well during his tenure.
However, the Hokies haven't faced as tough of a "bounce back" opponent as they will today taking on #9 Miami led by star QB D'Eriq King who has climbed onto the edge of the Heisman race. Justin Fuente also has struggled against top 10 teams with Fuente having an 0-5 record with the Hokies against the top 10 with no wins against a team ranked in the top 15 during his tenure.
So with that said, here are our picks for the Hokies against the Hurricanes.
This game has all the makings of a shootout with two teams who have great playmakers under center and defenses that are lackluster, especially the one on the home sideline. While both defenses will try to obviously do what they can, this feels like a game that will be a shootout between the Hokies and Hurricanes which doesn't favor Tech.
Hendon Hooker has played extremely well over his past two games but if the Hokies don't have Khalil Herbert for basically the second-straight game and if James Mitchell is out as well, the task for Hooker gets a lot tougher especially with Raheem Blackshear being more of an offensive weapon that Tech has to find ways to get in space to maximize. One player who has found his rhythm recently is Tre Turner who could be poised for a big game today especially if Tech has no Herbert or Mitchell.
Meanwhile, there have been rumors that Miami could be without some players but D'Eriq King and Cam'Ron Harris are one of the best QB-RB duos in the conference while star TE Brevin Jordan may also be back this week. If Jordan is, that'll be a major boost with Jordan being the type of player that'll require loads of attention from Divine Deablo and Chamarri Conner and may require Tech taking a similar defensive approach as they did when they faced Boston College's star TE Hunter Long.
The Hokies will need their pass rush to step up especially to keep King in the pocket to try to at least limit him with Justus Reed and Amare Barno being two of the few Tech defensive players who have played well recently and can cause loads of problems.
This has the makings of a shootout for a Virginia Tech defense that is struggling and while Tech's offense should put up points, the uncertainty surrounding Herbert and Mitchell (and LB Rayshard Ashby) along with playcalling that gets in the way of the offense in 1 or 2 key moments is enough to go with Miami.
Pick: #9 Miami 45, Virginia Tech 35
Virginia Tech looks to rebound after a disappointing loss to an inferior opponent - yet again - this season. The Hokies' loss to Liberty broke open a can of worms, as fans have truly begun imagining life after Fuente for Virginia Tech, despite a buyout seeming implausible. The mentality of the team is unknown, especially losing in such heartbreaking fashion last week and having to face a good Miami team ranked No. 9 in the country.
Quarterback D'Eriq King has had an excellent year for the Hurricanes and looks poised to continue that success against a subpar Hokies' defense. He has been excellent throwing the ball downfield, averaging a healthy 8.2 Y/A while completing 63.7 percent of his passes. Tech has struggled overlapping zones, playing man coverage, and has allowed too many big plays in the last four weeks to have any confidence in them to slow down Miami's offense.
That's not even mentioning Miami's dangerous run game, which relies on the legs of King and running back Cam'Ron Harris as the Hurricanes average 172 yards a game on the ground. I would expect them to exceed that total against a defense that is weak in the middle aside from linebacker Rayshard Ashby but he may not be athletic enough to chase King and Harris sideline to sideline.
On offense, the game plan should be simple: somehow get an early lead and pound the rock. Tech has not been comfortable playing from behind, evidenced by the inability to be consistent against Wake Forest or Liberty. Miami's run defense has been solid as teams are only averaging 4.1 yards per carry against them this season. The Hokies' offensive line needs to be at its best against a good Miami front led by Quincy Roche.
Overall, I just can't trust the Hokies to rebound in this spot, even if they've shown the ability to do it before. If they do keep it close, will the Hokies' coaching staff do enough to pull out a win? It's hard to envision.
Pick: #9 Miami 41, Virginia Tech 28
The Hokies look to make a complete 360 against the Miami Hurricanes after suffering a loss at home last week to the Liberty Flames.
No matter how difficult the loss for the Hokies mentally, it does not affect their ACC record which holds at 4-2 after the Liberty matchup, the plus one to their 10-game ACC schedule.
But Virginia Tech is going to need to quickly let that game out of their heads because the #9 Hurricanes come to Blacksburg with a 6-1 record.
Khalil Hebert suffering a hamstring injury on the opening kickoff for the Hokies hurt the running game's volume of options as Hendon Hooker was heavily relied on against the Flames, rushing 156 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Hooker also provided a stellar performance through the air last week as he also added 20 of 27 passing for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns, which accompanied well with his rushing game.
The Hurricanes also have a solid playmaker at the quarterback position as D’Eriq King who ranks amongst the best dual-threat weapons in the ACC.
King ranks third in the ACC with passing efficiency (152.5) while sitting at eighteenth in ACC in rushing yards per game (58.0).
As we saw last week, the Hokies had their troubles against the dual-threat capabilities of Malik Willis so it will be fascinating to see how the defense steps up after the week’s prior performance.
As both quarterbacks will be fun to watch, both defenses have struggled at stopping opposing teams from scoring this season with the Hokies allowing 31.6 points per game while the Hurricanes are sitting around allowing 24.9 points per game.
Both offenses don’t shy away from scoring the football, so this looks to be setting up to become another shootout in Blacksburg.
For the Hokies, they come into this game as the favorites, but some may argue that last week’s loss may slander some of the confidence heading into the weekend.
Although I’m thinking that this is going to be closer than how some people see it, I believe the Hurricanes pull out the slight victory over the Hokies and get their ACC Championship game hopes in tact.
Pick: #9 Miami 35, Virginia Tech 31
The Hokies enter this week looking to bounce back against the Hurricanes, following a heartbreaking home loss against Liberty last week.
Virginia Tech will be back at home today, taking on the ninth ranked Miami Hurricanes. Miami has had a rather impressive season up to this point, with its only loss coming against Clemson.
This game has a lot riding on it. Even though it looked as if the door had been shut on a potential ACC Championship game appearance for Virginia Tech following the Liberty game, a Clemson upset loss against Notre Dame narrowly opened it. A win against Miami could just be the spark that this team needs to go on a late season run and force its way into the championship game.
On the other hand, a loss today will all but end the Hokies hopes to reach the ACC Championship game, as well as potentially usher in an end to the Fuente era in Blacksburg.
As pivotal as this game will be for Virginia Tech, this talented Miami squad won’t do the team any favors.