Miami Hurricanes (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS) at No. 21 Virginia Tech Hokies (4-1 SU, 1-4 ATS), Saturday October 8th, 2011. 3:30PM EST, College Football Week 6
Lane Stadium Blacksburg, Va.
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Mia +7/Va Tech -7
Over/Under Total: 44.5
The no. 21 Virginia Tech Hokies suffered an embarrassing loss at home last week to the Clemson Tigers 23-3. It was the first loss by more than 10 points inside Lane Stadium since the 2006 season and set the Hokies back to 0-1 in conference play. To make matters worse, the offense posted just 3 points and 258 yards of total offense in what can only be described as a poor performance from Frank Beamers’ defending ACC Champions.
This week Virginia Tech looks to rebound when they host a struggling Miami Hurricanes team back at Lane Stadium in another conference match-up. Remember the Hokies were the odds on favorite to defend their ACC Championship this season, but last week’s loss was a surprising setback to start ACC play. Therefore if the Hokies were to suffer another conference loss this early in the season, it would all but destroy their chances to make it back to the ACC Championship Game.
The Hurricanes enter this Saturday’s meeting with the Hokies fresh off a 45-14 victory over Bethune-Cookman out of the FCS. The win moved the Hurricanes back to the .500 mark on the season at 2-2. Miami has already experienced quite the roller coaster ride through the first 4 weeks of their season marked by inconsistent play. Miami opened the season with a 32-24 loss to Maryland before rebounding with an upset win over Ohio State 24-6. The Hurricanes then backed up their big win over the Buckeyes with another disappointing loss to Kansas State 28-24. The Hurricanes have battled inconsistency issues over the past several seasons and it appears their biggest problem yet again in 2011.
The main problems for the Hurricanes have been the inability to move the football. Miami ranks 82nd in total offense with 369 yards per game and only ranks 62nd in scoring with 29.25 points per game. QB Jacory Harris is completing 69% passing with 6 scores and 3 picks. However, Harris has thrown for just 570 yards in 3 games. The passing game has just not been impressive primarily due to the lack of playmakers stepping up in the receiving core. Junior WR Tommy Streeter is the only Hurricane receiver with more than 200 yards receiving and he has just 12 catches on the year.
Miami has run the ball fairly well to off-set the passing woes. Running back Lamar Miller has racked up 511 yards through the first 4 games of the season. Miller has carried the offense on his back by averaging 6.7 yards per carry and has also tallied 4 touchdowns on the year. While Miller has been successful this season on the ground, the Hurricanes passing offense will need to find a spark this Saturday. The Hokies defense ranks 2nd in the nation against the run allowing just 58 yards per game. Therefore it would be surprising to see Miami have tremendous success on the ground without having a passing game to get the Hokies defense off the line of scrimmage.
Then again the Hurricanes offense may not need much success to overcome the Hokies. After all, Virginia Tech only managed to post 3 points against a Clemson defense that was giving up just less than 30 points per game last week. The Hokies passing attack has struggled similar to the way the Hurricanes passing attack has struggled this year. Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas has completed just 56% passing for 886 yards and has thrown 5 interceptions compared to just 4 touchdowns on the season. Senior WR Danny Coale leads the team with 23 catches for 326 yards and 1 score. Coale has clearly been the most reliable target this season and expect Thomas to throw a few balls his way again this Saturday in passing situations.
Outside of the passing imperfection, the Hokies have an outstanding rushing attack. The Hokies have averaged just less than 200 yards per game on the ground and have one of the best running backs in the ACC by way of RB David Wilson. Wilson leads the ACC in rushing with 639 yards through the first 5 games. Wilson is averaging a healthy 6.0 yards per carry to go along with 5 scores on the season. If the Virginia Tech passing game continues to struggle, I would expect Wilson to get 25-30 carries this Saturday to ensure the offense does not give Miami any short field opportunities.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The best bet in this game is the UNDER. If you’re looking for an opinion on the side, I like the Hokies in a revenge game at home against a struggling Miami offense. Take the Hokies -7.
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