Why Virginia Tech vs. Miami Is the ACC's Most Underrated Football Rivalry

Alex Koma@AlexKomaVTContributor IIIOctober 24, 2013

Logan Thomas and the Hokies have played some great games against the Hurricanes over the years.
Logan Thomas and the Hokies have played some great games against the Hurricanes over the years.Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC might not have the kind of storied rivalries that the SEC or Big Ten can boast about, but the animosity that exists between the Virginia Tech football team and the Miami Hurricanes still deserves attention. 

Miami leads the series 18-12, but the two teams have played some extremely meaningful and competitive games over the course of the last decade.

The Hokies and Hurricanes figure to make some more history this season. Both teams are undefeated in the ACC, and their matchup in Florida on Nov. 9 may very well determine the winner of the Coastal division.

There’s no doubt that the two programs will bring plenty of energy into that game, considering the high stakes that often accompany their matchups.

The winner of the Virginia Tech-Miami contest often goes on to prominent bowl games, while the loser generally gets knocked down a peg, making this rivalry one of the ACC's best.


2003: Virginia Tech 31, Miami 7 

These two teams might still have been in the Big East a decade ago, but they still played quite the compelling game in 2003.

The Hurricanes rolled into Blacksburg on a 39-game regular-season winning streak and were ranked second in the nation. They had lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the national title game just a season ago and were looking to head back to the championship game.

Most people expected the Hokies to be a challenge for Miami, considering that Tech was ranked 10th by the Associated Press heading into the game, but few could have predicted the Hokies' domination in this one. 

Tech's defense harassed Miami's offense for every minute of the game.

DeAngelo Hall got things started by stripping the ball from receiver Roscoe Parrish and returning it for a 28-yard score.

From there, the Hokies relied on running back Kevin Jones to pound the ball on the ground, as he finished with 124 yards and a score.

Tech only finished with 219 total yards of offense, but combined with Hall's big return and Eric Green's 51-yard interception return for a score, the Hokies easily handled Miami.

Tech would ultimately fall out of the Top 25, but Miami would finish fifth in the nation.

The Canes still got to play in the Orange Bowl, but the loss to the Hokies almost single-handedly knocked them out of national title contention.


2004: Virginia Tech 16, Miami 10

One year later, the Hokies and Hurricanes matched up as newly minted members of the ACC.

The rivals squared off in the final game of the regular season, which served as a de facto championship game for the conference.

The official ACC Championship Game wouldn't come into existence until 2005, and although Tech had previously clinched a share of the conference title with a win against the Virginia Cavaliers, this game was still extremely significant.

The Hurricanes had designs on avenging their big loss in 2003, but they couldn’t make anything happen offensively. 

Tech's defense held them to just 190 yards on the day, and Hokies quarterback Bryan Randall was efficient enough to power the offense.

The two teams were tied at 10 going at the start of the fourth quarter, but this 39-yard touchdown pass from Randall to receiver Eddie Royal sealed the win for the Hokies.

Not only did the victory help Tech win the conference outright in the program’s first season in the ACC, but it also sent the Hokies to the Sugar Bowl. 

Miami was denied a berth in its fifth straight BCS bowl and instead went to the Peach Bowl.

But the Canes would get revenge a year later.


2005: Miami 27, Virginia Tech 7

In 2005, the Hokies were harboring national title dreams of their own when Miami came to town.

Tech was ranked third behind the USC Trojans and Texas Longhorns and needed to stay perfect for a shot at the Rose Bowl.

However, the Hurricanes had plenty of talent, coming into the game at fifth overall, and they embarrassed Tech in Lane Stadium.

Their defense harassed quarterback Marcus Vick all game long, holding Tech's offense to just 167 yards.

The Hurricanes also forced Vick to turn the ball over six different times, including this fumble in the end zone that led to Miami’s final score.

The loss squashed Tech's title aspirations, and the Hokies have yet to get as close to the championship game as they did this season.

Tech still advanced to the first ACC Championship Game, but their loss to the Florida State Seminoles in that match relegated them to the Gator Bowl.


2011: Virginia Tech 38, Miami 35 

Six years later, the rivals played one of the most exciting games in the series' history. 

The Hokies had just suffered a brutal 23-3 home loss to the Clemson Tigers, dropping the team from 11th in the AP Top 25 to 21st.

Miami was just 2-2 coming into the game, but the Hurricanes had a big win against Ohio State to their credit. Most Hokies fans were concerned that another loss at home to the up-and-coming Canes could effectively end the season.

Instead, Tech and Miami traded punches offensively for the full four quarters before the Hokies ultimately emerged victorious.

The Hokies' Logan Thomas and the Hurricanes' Jacory Harris each threw for three touchdowns, but the game came down to Tech's final drive with less than three minutes left.

With Tech down 35-31, Thomas drove the Hokies down to the 19-yard line, but they faced a 4th-and-1 with 56 seconds to go. Thomas came through in the biggest way possible, scampering for a touchdown to put the Hokies ahead. 

All that was left for Tech was to stop the Hurricanes one more time.

Miami started on their own 30-yard line, but after Hokie fans were whipped into a frenzy by a rendition of "Enter Sandman," they didn't stand a chance, as this video shows. 

The win saved Tech's season, helping them keep pace with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the division. 

The Hokies would go on to win the next seven games before falling to Clemson once again in the ACC title game. But despite that loss, the team would still go on to play in the Sugar Bowl.

Thomas' role in the victory also vaulted him onto the national stage, even earning him some brief Heisman attention.

On Nov. 9, the two teams will get a chance to reignite their rivalry once more, with the Coastal division on the line. 

Last year, the Hurricanes pummeled the forlorn Hokies 30-12 in Florida.

This time around, Tech will try to build on their impressive ACC record and seize the reigns from Miami as the top team in the division.

If it's anything like the teams' past matchups, it should be one compelling contest.


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