No. 9 Miami Hurricanes (2-0, 2-0 ATS) at No. 13 Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1, 1-2 ATS) Lane Stadium Blacksburg, V.A., Saturday September 26th, 3:30PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Miami -2/Virginia Tech +2
The No. 13 Virginia Tech Hokies have battled against their share of national powerhouses thus far early in the year and they will get to square off with another highly ranked team when they host the No. 9 Miami Hurricanes this Saturday.
The Hokies are coming off a huge clutch performance against No. 19 Nebraska 16-15. QB Tyrod Taylor found wide receiver Dyrell Roberts for a touchdown with just over 20 seconds remaining in the game to lift the Hokies to a big win over the Cornhuskers. The Hokies now turn their focus to perhaps their biggest game of the season when they try and take down fellow ACC Coastal rival Miami in what could turn out to be a battle for the rights to represent the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship by the end of the season.
However, the Hokies face a tough task slowing down Jacory Harris and the Hurricanes offense. There has been no other team in the country that has climbed the rankings like Miami since the start of the season. The Hurricanes knocked off Florida State in the opener and then routed Georgia Tech last Thursday night 33-17. The Hurricanes who entered the year outside of the Top 25 have skyrocketed to the number 9 ranking in the nation. Miami has found a superstar at quarterback in Jacory Harris. In just two games, Harris has thrown for 656 yards and 5 touchdowns leading a premier Hurricanes passing game. Still, things are expected to get much tougher when they battle the best defense they could see all year this Saturday.
Miami entered the season with a lot of concerns at quarterback especially with the lack of depth behind center. However if Harris can stay healthy, the Hurricanes are going to be a force in the ACC. To add fuel to the fire which is the Hurricanes offense, they have some talented guys at the receiver position. WR Travis Benjamin is a speedster who is dangerous with the ball. Benjamin leads the team in reception yards with 157 on the year. While the Hurricanes offense spreads the ball around, Benjamin opens eyes on every touch of the football. Leonard Hankerson and Dedrick Epps are two other talented wide outs who will get into the mix. Hankerson is averaging 21.4 yards per catch while Epps is the lone senior of the group. Also, running back Graig Cooper is another threat in the backfield that is equally dangerous catching passes as well. The Hurricanes offense is sure to be tested heavily against the Hokies, but they have tons of speed all over the field. If the receivers continue to get open and Harris stays hot, there is no reason to think Miami can not pull off another big victory.
Virginia Tech has been struggling over the past few weeks to ignite the offense. The Hokies have averaged just 20 points per game against ranked teams this season. To add insult injury, quarterback Tyrod Taylor has completed less than 50% passing in both of those contests as well. The Hokies offense strives off of Taylor’s ability to make plays. The young quarterback made plays with his legs when his arm let him down last year, but has not even been able to do that thus far in the year. Taiback Ryan Williams has stepped in nicely for the Hokies rushing game. Williams took over when Darren Evans was lost prior to entering the season due to injury. Williams has rushed for 342 yards already this season averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Miami stopped Georgia Tech’s running game last week, but they will have to do it again when a bigger offensive line from Virginia Tech takes to the ground.
The biggest area of the game to watch will be the Virginia Tech secondary against the Miami wide receivers. The Hokies secondary is loaded with experience behind seniors CB Stephan Virgil, S Kam Chancellor, and S Dorian Porch. If any bunch is going to slow down the Hurricanes offense it will be these talented Hokies. Miami won last year’s battle, but it will be much more difficult this year in Blacksburg. If Virginia Tech can control the passing game, they should control the football and move the ball on the ground. However, if the receivers for Miami continue to find gaps in the secondary it could be another loss to the Hurricanes. All likely scenarios indicate the Hokies will be involved in another close ballgame, but will they be able to pull out another victory if it comes down to a last possession game?
Jay’s Pick – I am still not sold on Virginia Tech’s consistency on offense. Unless Harris throws multiple interceptions, then Miami should be able to continue their climb in the polls. Take Miami -2 to cover the spread.