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Virginia Cavaliers vs. Miami Hurricanes Preview and Prediction

Malik Rosier

Malik Rosier

After their controversial 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that won the game in interim head coach Larry Scott's debut, the Miami Hurricanes (5-3, 2-2 ACC) will return home to Sun Life Stadium this weekend as they will take on the Virginia Cavaliers (3-5, 2-2). 

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Despite being underdogs last weekend at home against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Virginia won the game 27-21. Matt Johns finished 17-of-28 for 175 yards and a touchdown. 

The all-time series between Miami and Virginia is tied at 6-6. In the last meeting between the two schools, the Cavaliers topped the Hurricanes 30-13 last year in Charlottesville.  A win on Saturday would make Miami bowl eligible for the eighth consecutive season. 

Virginia at Miami


Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
Channel: ESPN 3/Fox Sports South
Spread: Miami -7.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Who will play quarterback for Miami?
Starting quarterback Brad Kaaya suffered a concussion during their 58-0 loss against Clemson a couple of weeks ago. He failed the concussion protocol before the Duke game and was ruled out of last week’s game.

Prior to being injured, Kaaya was playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC as he has thrown 1846 yards, 10 touchdowns against two interceptions. 

His replacement last week, backup quarterback Malik Rosier was superb in his first career start.

The freshman was 20-of-29 for 272 yards as he also chipped in two touchdowns. Rosier’s 272 yards was the second most yards for any Hurricane quarterback in their first start since 1999. 

Scott said after practice on Tuesday that Kaaya is listed as questionable for the Hurricanes' game against the Cavaliers. 

“He’s still questionable [for Saturday],” Scott said. “This is one of the final pieces to the protocol with that. He was out, did some things, looked good, but the doctors are evaluating that situation closely. We’ll follow their feedback from this afternoon when they have a chance to look at how he did and visit with him.”

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2. Trent Corney
In Miami’s game against Clemson, the Tigers were able to get a lot of pressure on Kaaya and Rosier and that was the reason the Hurricanes turned the ball over three times. Virginia has the personnel to follow the same receipt to defeat Miami. 

Virginia defensive end Trent Corney had his best game of the season against Georgia Tech last week. The senior recorded four tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble that lead to a Virginia touchdown two scores later. 

With the youth on Miami’s offensive line, Scott and the Hurricanes will have to pay special attention to where Corney is lined up on the field. 

3. Takeaways 
Coming into their game on Saturday, Miami ranks near the top in turnover margin. The Hurricanes are sixth in the FBS in turnover margin as they have 17 takeaways against seven giveaways. 

While Miami is near the top in the turnover margin department, Virginia is not as the Cavaliers rank 120th in turnover margin. Virginia has eight takeaways to 18 giveaways this season. 

Any time a team goes on the road, turnovers are usually the ultimate determiner on if a team will come up victorious.

Virginia only turned the ball over once last week against Georgia Tech and they will likely have to play a similar clean game to defeat the Hurricanes on Saturday.  

Final Analysis

It is hard to predict this game without knowing the status of Kaaya. If he is 100 percent and he does play, there’s no reason Miami can’t win this game with ease. If Rosier starts, Virginia will of course have a better shot to win this game.

College Football Top 25: Miami

Either way, Miami will likely lean on running back Joseph Yearby on Saturday. The true sophomore has rushed for 641 yards this season and five touchdowns on 5.1 yards per carry. Virginia will also have to worry about Yearby being a playmaker out of the backfield as he has caught 17 passes for two touchdowns. 

Johns has been the definition of inconsistency all season long. The senior has thrown 13 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. 

The Hurricanes should be able to force a couple of turnovers and that should be enough to carry them to a victory. 

Prediction: Miami 31, Virginia 24

— 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, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.