Miami vs. Virginia Tech prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Hurricanes and Hokies on Thursday in Blacksburg, VA.
Miami vs. Virginia Tech Game Preview
When: Thursday, Oct. 20 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA
TV Broadcast: ESPN
The Hurricanes (4-2, 1-2 ACC) are coming off of another tough home loss, falling to North Carolina one week after they missed a late extra point against Florida State in Miami Gardens. Quarterback Brad Kaaya fumbled on the team’s final possession to give the Tar Heels a 20-13 win.
Meanwhile, the Hokies (4-2, 2-1) faltered at Syracuse, giving first-year Orange head coach Dino Babers an early signature win. Syracuse’s 31-17 win was its first victory over a ranked opponent since 2012. The Orange recorded 561 yards of total offense on the nation’s third-ranked defense and converted four of five fourth-down opportunities.
In last year’s meeting in Miami Gardens, Kaaya directed a 75-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes to put away the Hokies in a 30-20 win. Kaaya finished 19-of-30 passing for 296 yards, as the ‘Canes bounced back from a loss a week earlier at Florida State to beat the Hokies for the second year in a row. Miami’s defense forced four turnovers, had three sacks and did not give the football away in the victory. Of course, the season did sour for Miami, as head coach Al Golden was ultimately dismissed.
This is a huge divisional matchup that will go a long way toward determining the ACC Coastal champ.
What To Know About Miami
The Hurricanes allowed UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky to throw for 299 yards and two touchdowns and receiver Bug Howard to haul in 10 catches for 156 yards last week. The ‘Canes also allowed UNC to convert on 14 of its 23 third-down opportunities. Offensively, Mark Walton rushed for 82 yards and Joe Yearby ran for 74 more and a touchdown. But Kaaya completed just 16 of his 31 passes for 224 yards, and one has to wonder about the health of his shoulder. While he told reporters after the loss that it was not a factor in his performance, he was limited in practice leading up to the game against the Tar Heels. Making matters worse for the ‘Canes is the fact that their defensive depth has been weakened due to injuries. Defensive linemen Chad Thomas and Demetrius Jackson were knocked out of the game against the Tar Heels, while linebacker Michael Pinckey was banged-up as well before returning.
What to Know About Virginia Tech
The Hokies made Orange dual-threat signal-caller Eric Dungey work for his yards, as he had 25 incompletions. However, he still accounted for 417 yards and two touchdowns (311 yards through the air and a career-high 106 on the ground). It was an unusual performance from a defense that had been so stellar this year. Offensively, Jerod Evans found success both on the ground and through the air, but he did throw an interception and also fumbled with 4:08 to go in the loss to the Orange.
Offense: Even. Only 1.4 yards per game separate these two teams in total offense.
Defense: Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes are not too far behind the Hokies in total defense, and Bud Foster’s unit was lit up by the Orange. But Foster will have his unit ready for a bounce-back performance at home.
Special Teams: Virginia Tech. The ‘Canes have allowed four blocked kicks this season, which is tied for the worst in the country.
Coaching: Miami. Credit to Justin Fuente for putting his stamp on the VT program early. And while Miami has lost two games in a row, this is still a much better ‘Canes outfit under Mark Richt than we have seen in years past.
Intangibles: Even. Both teams are desperate for a division win, and both teams are coming off of losses. Worse for the ‘Canes, they were two tough losses.
Matchup To Watch
Kaaya vs. VT defense
There is no question that NFL general managers, scouts and other personnel believe that Kaaya will be a very good pro. Because of his skill set and high expectations, this is the type of game that he needs to play his best in. The ‘Canes desperately need to get back into the win column, so a strong performance on a Thursday night stage is needed from the team’s best player. Kaaya had a long, late drive that iced last year’s game, and he threw for almost 300 yards. This is a much better VT defense (despite what happened in the Carrier Dome), and Kaaya has completed less than 60 percent of his throws the last two weeks—both ‘Canes losses. It needs to be the Kaaya Show for Miami to steal a win in Blacksburg.
Spread: Virginia Tech -4.5
Over/Under: No Line (as of post)
Miami vs. Virginia Tech Prediction
This should be a very entertaining game between two teams that did not play their best in losses last week. It will be played on a short week, so one has to wonder how sharp and crisp the teams will be on offense and defense. I went back and forth while trying to project this outcome, and I expect a big special teams play from punt returner Braxton Berrios, who had a 41-yard return for a touchdown in Miami’s 70-3 win against Florida A&M earlier in the year. That will be the difference in a tight ‘Canes winner.
Miami vs. Virginia Tech Score Prediction: Miami 24, Virginia Tech 23