After trailing for much of last Saturday afternoon's game against Liberty, the Hokies (4-3, 4-2 ACC) seemingly walked away with a win after blocking a field goal and returning it for a score as time ran out. But as has been well documented since, Tech coach Justin Fuente called a timeout prior to the snap, and two plays later Liberty's Alex Barbir booted one through from 51 yards for a Flames victory.
Miami (6-1, 5-1) had its own struggle on Friday night, but the Canes managed to pull out a win over NC State. Down by 10 points early in the fourth quarter, Miami kicked two field goals and then scored a touchdown with under three minutes remaining to secure their sixth victory. Miami still needs help to get to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game, but the Canes first have to keep winning.
Miami leads the all-time series 22-15 and has won four of the last six meetings. But the Hokies came out on top last year, winning 42-35 at Hard Rock Stadium.
No. 9 Miami at Virginia Tech
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 14 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Virginia Tech -2
When Miami Has the Ball
D'Eriq King came to Coral Gables with high expectations and the Houston transfer, at the very least, has lived up to his billing. The Hurricanes' offense revolves almost exclusively around his incredible talents. King has completed nearly 64 percent of his throws for 1,828 yards and 16 touchdowns, and he leads the team with 406 rushing yards. Last Friday night, when Miami really needed a play to be made, No. 1 came through.
Outside of King, Miami has had trouble running the football this year. They did have 189 yards on the ground this past week, but King had 105 of those yards. After rushing for exactly 134 yards in each of his first two games, Cam'Ron Harris hasn't topped the 50-yard mark since. The offensive line, which has taken its share of beatings during the past few seasons, is partially to blame, but Harris has to up his game as well.
If the Miami running game is going to explode, this could very well be the week. The Virginia Tech rush defense has been horrendous in four of their last five games. Liberty ran for 249 yards, with quarterback Malik Willis going over 100. That stat should make King and Miami offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee salivate. Also, Virginia Tech is 11th in the ACC in pass defense, so King targets Mike Harley, Mark Pope, and a hopefully healthy Brevin Jordan will have a chance to make an impact.
When Virginia Tech Has the Ball
The running game has become the most important aspect of the Hokies' offense, and their primary ball carrier is nursing a hamstring injury. Khalil Herbert took part in just one play against Liberty before he was removed from the game. His status is uncertain going into this week. Without Herbert, quarterback Hendon Hooker became the go-to runner, and he finished the game with 156 yards. But Virginia Tech needed more, as the rest of the team finished with just 45 rushing yards.
Hooker has been very efficient the past two weeks as a passer, completing 30 of 37 throws for 400 yards. In terms of where the ball is going, Virginia Tech relies heavily on three receiving options. Wideouts Tayvion Robinson and Tre Turner, along with tight end James Mitchell, have 62 of the team's 93 receptions on the year. Running back Raheem Blackshear, who caught 73 passes in two years at Rutgers, has only nine receptions so far this season and needs to become a bigger part of the offense, especially if Herbert is out.
The Hokies will need to feature both the run and the pass against an aggressive Miami defense. The Canes will give up some yards on occasion, but they'll also drive opposing offenses backward as well. Defensive end Quincy Roche has 10 tackles for lost yardage and hybrid linebacker Gilbert Frierson has seven. Known for the gaudy Turnover Chain, the Miami defense has 10 takeaways on the year, which is tied for ninth in the ACC.
While it is true that Virginia Tech cannot be happy, what does that mean for their upcoming game against Miami? With just two losses in the league and a game against Clemson coming up in December, the Hokies are not completely out of the ACC race, though getting to Charlotte would be a steep, uphill climb. But losing to Liberty the way that they did had to have been a psychological blow. Miami, on the other hand, has found ways to win games. King has been a huge upgrade at the game's most important position and the defense has been solid. Virginia Tech will come out fighting, but at some point, something will go Miami's way and the Canes will capitalize. The heat will be turned up on Justin Fuente as the Hokies lose at least four games for the ninth consecutive year.
Prediction: Miami 34, Virginia Tech 28
Podcast: Week 11 Preview and Predictions
— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.