Virginia Tech (4-4) at Miami-Florida (4-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sun Life Stadium (74,916) -- Miami Gardens, Florida. Television: ESPN. Home Record: VT 4-0, Miami 2-2. Away Record: VT 0-3, Miami 2-2. Neutral Record: VT 0-1, Miami 0-0. Conference Record: VT 2-2, Miami 3-2. Series Record: Miami-Florida leads, 17-12.
GAME NOTES: A couple of teams coming off a bye will meet on Thursday night in south Florida, as the Miami Hurricanes host the Virginia Tech Hokies in an ACC clash.
Virginia Tech is coming off a 38-17 setback at 10th-ranked Clemson two weeks ago, its third loss in the last four games. The Hokies have lost their last six games outside of Blacksburg, tying the longest losing streak since the 1990 and '91 seasons. However, the team is 19-5 all-time in nationally- televised Thursday night football games.
After being idle last weekend, Miami will wrap up its three-game homestand. The Hurricanes have followed up a three-game win streak by losing three in a row, the most recent of which was a 33-20 setback to Florida State on Oct. 20. Their last victory came more than a month ago against NC State.
Miami leads the all-time series, 17-12, although Virginia Tech has won each of the last three meetings and seven of the last nine overall.
Dual-threat quarterback Logan Thomas leads the Hokies offense. Thomas has been rather inconsistent in the passing game, completing only 53.6 percent of his attempts with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the season. Primary target Marcus Davis has averaged 80.4 receiving yards per tilt and has hauled in four of Thomas' 13 touchdown passes. On the ground, Thomas has notched a team-high five rushing TDs while averaging 37.3 rushing yards, as he is tied with Michael Vick for third place in career rushing touchdowns by a Tech QB with 16. Freshman J.C. Coleman is averaging 6.0 yards per carry and a team-best 42.3 yards per game on the ground despite starting only three games. He got 12 carries against Clemson but netted only 19 yards (1.6 ypc), while Thomas logged 21 totes for 99 yards and a score. He wasn't as efficient in the passing game, however, as he finished with one touchdown and two interceptions, one of which was returned 74 yards for a score.
The Tech defense has posted five sacks in each of the last two games. Behind that steady pressure, the Hokies were able to limit Clemson's Tajh Boyd to 160 yards on 12-of-21 passing, with one touchdown and one interception. Boyd did score twice on the ground, although the Tigers managed just 3.0 ypc as a team and finished with only 295 total yards, compared to 406 yards for VT. However, six Hokies' turnovers made things increasingly difficult on their defense. Jack Tyler (2.5 TFL) and Kyshoen Jarrett (1.0 TFL) shared team-high honors with nine tackles each in the loss. Tyler ranks third in the ACC with 9.6 tackles per game.
Miami's offense prefers to move the ball through the air. Junior quarterback Stephen Morris enters the weekend leading the ACC in completions (179), passing attempts (311) and passing yards (2,219), while ranking second with 277.4 yards per game. Against ninth-ranked Florida State two weeks ago, he shook off a sprained left ankle (suffered the previous week) to throw for 223 yards and a TD. However, the offense took a hit when freshman running back/return specialist Duke Johnson exited in the second half with a foot injury. His absence was significant in that Johnson ranks third in the ACC in all-purpose yards (137.9) and eighth in rushing (56.9). With the freshman playmaker unavailable, Miami finished with just 29 rushing yards on 21 attempts. Fortunately for the Hurricanes, both Johnson and Morris are considered probable for Thursday's matchup.
FSU essentially tried to give the Hurricanes the game, committing 12 penalties and putting the ball on the ground five times (two lost). The Miami defense held the Seminoles to field goals on four drives, although FSU won the time of possession battle by nearly 10 minutes and outgained Miami, 447-258. Entering this week's tilt, Miami ranks 116th out of 120 FBS teams in total defense, allowing 499.1 ypg. Sophomore linebacker Denzel Perryman posted a season-high 12 tackles, including nine solo, and also forced a fumble against FSU. Of Perryman's 47 tackles on the season, 31 have come in the last three games as he has clearly gotten more comfortable in the scheme. Freshmen Deon Bush and Eddie Johnson have also become playmakers, as they are tied for the ACC lead with 3 forced fumbles.
Since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hokies have lost just twice in the month of November. However, they won't be able to coast past the Hurricanes, who still remain very much in the Coastal Division race. Expect a tight game between these conference rivals.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Florida 23, Virginia Tech 20
10/31 10:40:38 ET