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Miami-Va. Tech Preview: Will Hurricanes Be Downgraded In Blacksburg?

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - SEPTEMBER 17:  Wide receiver Thearon Collier #28 of the Miami Hurricanes runs onto the field past a group of photographers before taking on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Land Shark Stadium on September 17, 2009 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Miami defeated Georgia Tech 33-17.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
The ACC and SEC BlogSenior Analyst ISeptember 24, 2009

After a 2-0 start, Miami travels to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech in a game that could decide the Coastal Division in the ACC.  Virginia Tech is 2-1 after home wins over Marshall and Nebraska.  Miami is a 2.5 point favorite in Blacksburg.

Last MeetingMiami 16, Va Tech 14 Miami, FL 2008
The Hokies were playing their second straight Thursday night game and lost a close one to Miami briefly relinquishing control of the Coastal Division.  Va Tech's offensive line allowed six sacks in just 20 pass attempts and 126 yards rushing to Miami.

Keys to the Game


1. Pressure on the QB

Miami's Jacory Harris has not faced much of it in throwing for 656 yards in two games this season.  His play and that of the offensive line are the two biggest reasons Miami's offense has been so potent this season. 

The Hokies line is doing a little better this year giving up five sacks in three games.  But Miami's defensive line is looking more like the Miami's defenses of old with mammoth DT Allen Bailey leading the way.  With QB Tyrod Taylor's rushing ability, it will be important for Miami to maintain containment against the speedy Hokie QB.

2. Rush Defense


The Hokies have to do a better job than the 200 ypg they have been giving up so far this year.  While Miami has preferred to throw the ball, they are still averaging 137 rush yards per game.  If Miami can run the ball close to their average then they keep Bud Fosters' Hokie D off balance.

On the flip side, Miami wants to make Taylor beat them with his arm where he is completing just under 48 percent of his passes.  The Hurricanes kept ACC leading rusher Georgia Tech to under 100 yards rushing last week.

3. Special Teams


Beamer Ball kept the Hokies in the Alabama game for three quarters despite being grossly out gained with a kickoff return and great containment of Javier Arenas.

Miami PK Matt Bosher, normally very reliable, missed two short field goals last week.  In a close game, he may be called upon late and needs more focus than he had last Thursday.  Miami's Travis Benjamin can be very dangerous on punt returns.

Prediction:

Nobody is hotter than Harris and the Miami offense right now.  If VT cannot solve their woes stopping the run then it could be a long day for Frank Beamer's team.  For the Hokies to win this game, they have to win the turnover battle, keep Miami's offense off the field, and get some big plays on special teams. 

But the recent meetings point to a Tech cover.  Miami is 1-7 ATS in the last 8 meetings with Va Tech;  the underdog is 6-2 ATS. 

I see this game coming right down to the end, but the Hurricanes solid kicking game wins it for them in the end.


Miami 24 Virginia Tech 21
Miami Covers -2.5

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