After not playing at home in nearly a month, the Miami Hurricanes will return to Sun Life Stadium on Saturday as they will host the Virginia Tech Hokies. The Hurricanes are coming off a tough 29-24 road loss to their rival, the Florida State Seminoles last week.
Virginia Tech evened their ACC record last weekend as they defeated the NC State Wolfpack 28-13. The Hokies defense held Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett to 113 yards, one touchdown against one interception.
Last time the Hurricanes and Hokies squared off, Miami came out on top 30-6 in Blacksburg last season. The Hurricanes lead the all-time series against the Hokies 19-13, including an 11-6 record at home.
Virginia Tech at Miami
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. EST (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPNU
Spread: Miami -6
Three Things to Watch
1. Brad Kaaya
Last weekend against the Seminoles, Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya had an excellent game as he threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns. This week, he will be facing one of the better passing defenses in the nation in Virginia Tech.
The Hokies are 11th in the country in passing yards allowed as they give up an average of 150.5 yards through the air. Virginia Tech also averages 2.33 sacks per game, which rank them 43rd in the nation.
Miami’s young offensive line will have to protect Kaaya so he can find the open receivers on the field. Earlier this week, Hurricanes coach Al Golden talked about wanting to see more growth from the team’s offensive line.
“We have to keep growing and improving,” said Golden. “We have to get deeper and play more people for more reps. It can’t just be a series here or there. We have to get more people into the game and stay fresher at the offensive line position.”
2. Hokies' quarterback
There hasn’t been any word on who’s starting at quarterback for Virginia Tech this week as both possible options are in question.
Starting quarterback Michael Brewer hasn’t played since the Hokies opening night loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes as he has been recovering from a broken collarbone.
Backup quarterback Brenden Motley, who has started the last five games, injured his ankle in the third quarter against NC State but he did finish the game.
Whoever starts against the Hurricanes will need to protect the football. Miami ranks No. 4 in the nation in turnover margin.
3. Miami’s rushing defense
Miami’s rushing defense has been a problem for the team all season, with the exception of the Bethune-Cookman season opener. Last week, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook rushed for 222 yards and two touchdowns against Miami. This week, the Hurricanes will face another stiff test from the Hokies running backs.
Virginia Tech averages 172 yards per game on the ground. Last week against the Wolfpack, the Hokies recorded 200 total rushing yards.
The Hokies have a mediocre passing offense as they are ranked 86th (average 206.5 yards per game) in the country. So Miami will have to make stops and force the Virginia Tech offense into third and long situations.
Both Miami and Virginia Tech do a great job of forcing turnovers from the opposite team. Both teams also rack up a number of penalties during the course of a game. So whoever can avoid the big mistakes is likely to win this game.
The Hurricanes have the most talented team in their matchup with the Hokies. If Miami can avoid the penalties that have cost them points in a number of games this season and contain the Virginia Tech rushing attack, they should win a close game.
Prediction: Miami 34, Virginia Tech 28
— 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.