It appears that the Virginia Cavaliers and the Miami Hurricanes are headed in opposite directions. But the two teams will have a chance to change that on Saturday when they meet in a critical ACC matchup at Hard Rock Stadium.
After their season-opening 38-20 victory against Duke, the Cavaliers (1-3, 1-3 ACC) have lost three straight games. Their latest loss came last weekend against Wake Forest, 40-23. On the other hand, Miami (4-1, 3-1 ACC) bounced back from their 42-17 loss to Clemson on Oct. 10. Last weekend, they were able to defeat the Pitt Panthers 31-19.
This is the 18th meeting between the two ACC rivals. Miami leads the series by three games, 10-7, including the Hurricanes' 17-9 victory last season.
Virginia at Miami
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Spread: Miami -12.5
When Virginia Has the Ball
Virginia's plan at quarterback against Miami is still to be determined. Starting quarterback Brennan Armstrong did not practice this week after suffering a concussion against NC State nearly two weeks ago. On Wednesday, Virginia offensive coordinator Robert Anae said that the Cavaliers training staff had not cleared Armstrong.
If Armstrong cannot go, the Cavaliers could start Lindell Stone once again. In the loss against Wake Forest, Stone completed 24-of-42 passes for 193 yards and two interceptions. Stone split snaps with Mississippi State graduate transfer Keytaon Thompson and true freshman Iraken Armstead. Thompson didn't throw a pass but did lead the Cavaliers in rushing with 71 yards.
Whoever is at quarterback will face a Hurricanes defensive line that's one of the most athletic in the ACC. Miami is averaging 2.8 sacks per game as Jared Harrison-Hunte leads the team with 3.0 on the season and Temple graduate transfer Quincy Roche isn't far behind at 2.5.
When Miami Has the Ball
D'Eriq King entered and began the season as a potential Heisman Trophy contender. But all of that talk came to a halt after the Hurricanes lost to Clemson. He somewhat recovered last weekend against Pitt.
King did throw for 222 yards and four touchdowns. He also completed just 51.6 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions. The Hurricanes need to get back to rushing the football effectively. King was their leading rusher against Pitt but only had 32 yards on the ground. The rest of the team combined for 77 rushing yards. Miami will face a Virginia team that's allowing 136.5 yards on the ground per game.
Prior to the Clemson game, Miami was averaging 257.3 rushing yards per game. Although it is difficult to think the Hurricanes can sustain that the entire season, they certainly should be averaging more than the 109 yards they picked up on the ground last week.
Considering Virginia's quarterback situation, this is a game Miami should run away with. Virginia's defense hasn't played the way Bronco Mendenhall would have liked, as they're giving up 39.6 points per game through three contests.
This will likely be the game where D'Eriq King gets back on track. The Hurricanes should also be able to pressure whoever the starting quarterback is for Virginia. That will force a few turnovers and likely lead to points for the Hurricanes.
Podcast: Week 8 Preview and Predictions
Prediction: Miami 44, Virginia 20
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.