(11) Virginia Tech at (9) Miami
By contributing Fanspeak writer Geoff Nelowet:
11th-ranked Virginia Tech travels to Dolphin stadium this weekend to take on the 9th-ranked Miami Hurricanes. The Hokies are coming off a come-from-behind home victory over Nebraska in which they extended their non-conference home winning streak to 32 games. The ‘Canes made a statement last week in handling then-ranked (14) Georgia Tech. Miami is 2-0, and both wins have come against ranked opponents.
As Techsideline.com points out, this rivalry could not be any more even. Since 1987 the teams are 9-9, and they have both scored 391 points against one another. With that in mind, this should be a very close game. Both teams are extremely talented on both sides of the ball. At this point I would give the edge to Miami. They’ve simply been more impressive than Virginia Tech this season.
Miami is led by Jacory Harris – a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate. He embarrassed Florida State and Georgia Tech, whose defenses are not necessarily inferior to Virginia Tech’s. The Miami offense should find its stride against a physical defense, and they will put up a surprising number of points.
The biggest question mark heading into the game is Virginia Tech’s offense. The Hokies can run the ball, and they have a tandem of talented running backs in Ryan Williams and David Wilson. Tyrod Taylor is also a dynamic runner from the quarterback position, but his arm could be what dictates the game. His paltry 444 passing yards this season are nearly eclipsed by Harris’ 386 yards just against Florida State. In short, Miami can put eight men in the box because they are confident that Taylor won’t beat them with his arm. If Taylor finds a way to make big plays in the passing game, the Hokies have a much better chance in this game.
Miami’s explosive passing game is what separates these two teams: Miami can set up the run with the pass, whereas Virginia Tech maintains predictability in their run game. The key to this game, like every game for Virginia Tech, is the play of Tyrod Taylor. Taylor needs to step up and lead his team, and he will have to do it through the air. Miami is absolutely talented enough to score in excess against a stout Hokie defense, and they are good enough on defense to keep Virginia Tech in check. Based on the last few weeks – both will happen.
Final score: Miami 28 Virginia Tech 16