Miami and Virginia Tech will square off tonight to create a little distance in the ACC Coastal division.
Although both clubs head into the matchup with a record of 4-4, they are both very much alive in the ACC championship race. While that doesn't say much for the conference, I'm sure neither team is complaining—especially a team like Miami, who has never won the ACC since it left the Big East after the 2003 season.
The winner of this game will take one step closer toward earning a trip to Bank of America Stadium, while the loser puts themselves in serious danger of missing a bowl game all together.
With Virginia Tech coming in as slight favorites, and a team that has had a lot more success over the years, here is what the Hurricanes have to do to pull off the upset.
Get the Running Game Going
The outcome of this game will likely come down to whether or not the Hurricanes can run the football. Despite having a talented backfield that includes senior Mike James and true freshman Duke Johnson, there have been four games where this team has failed to rack up 100 yards on the ground. Three of those four contests have resulted in losses for Miami.
According to Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer is well aware of the Hurricanes backfield and what it is capable of producing.
"The James kid, kind of a physical guy, ran against us up here last year," Beamer said Tuesday. "We had a hard time stopping the running game last time around. And then the Johnson kid, he's nifty, very explosive, very nifty. They do bring a different style in there."
We know Virginia Tech is a solid defensive club and Miami is capable of putting up numbers in the passing game, but you are not going to beat the Hokies if your offense is that one dimensional. This Miami offense is nearly unstoppable once the running game gets going, as the team is 3-1 this year when it clears the century mark.
Get playmakers like Johnson out in space, which will help open the passing game and give this team a serious shot at a victory.
Pressure Quarterback Logan Thomas
I'm not sure there is any hope whatsoever for this Miami defense. We are talking about a squad that ranks in the bottom of college football in scoring defense, stopping the run, preventing pass plays and total defense. It is historically bad and probably the worst defensive unit this program has ever seen in its history.
The good thing for the Hurricanes is that Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas hasn't been so hot this season, as he has thrown 10 interceptions to 13 touchdowns. He has thrown at least one interception in the last six games, which certainly has played a huge role in the Hokies failures this year.
Miami must play into that and generate some type of pressure on the junior quarterback. The Hurricanes have only created nine sacks and six quarterback hurries all season long, but if there was ever a time to develop pressure up front, it is now.
If Miami can get in the quarterback's face and make him throw the ball when he doesn't want to, mistakes will continue to occur and the Hurricanes will win this ballgame.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.