The Miami Hurricanes come off of their bye to face a Virginia Tech Hokies team that got embarrassed at home last week. The Hurricanes (2-2, 0-1 ACC) have had a week to clean things up after their surprisingly close 17-12 victory over the Central Michigan Chippewas from the MAC.
The Hokies (2-2, 0-2) are still processing last Friday night's 45-10 beatdown courtesy of the Duke Blue Devils. It was Virginia Tech's worst loss at Lane Stadium in 45 years.
While no one is mistaking either team as championship material right now, this is a critical game for both to remain in the conversation for the ACC Coastal Division title. It's pretty much a must-win game for the Hokies, who can't afford to fall to 0-3 in the conference.
Miami leads the all-time series over Virginia Tech 22-14. The Hurricanes have won the last two games, including their 38-14 victory in Blacksburg a season ago.
Virginia Tech at Miami
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 5 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Miami -14
When Virginia Tech Has the Ball
The Hokies have struggled to put points on the board thus far. Not only did their offense struggle against Duke last week, but Virginia Tech also had a hard time moving the ball in their win over FCS opponent Furman.
The Hokies are averaging 23.3 points (No. 99 FBS) and 363.5 total yards (No. 100) through the first four weeks. Quarterback Ryan Willis has struggled and has been rotating with backup Hendon Hooker as each player has failed to make a real impact on the offense.
Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente hasn't named a starter for the game with the Hurricanes, but expect both Williams and Hooker to see time. The problem is whoever is at quarterback will face a Hurricanes defense that ranks 13th in yards allowed (269.5) and 17th (16.0) in points allowed per game.
If the Hokies are going to have success against the Hurricanes, they will need to take care of the football. Willis has eight interceptions in four games.
When Miami Has the Ball
Miami's offense, much like Virginia Tech's, has struggled at times this season as evidenced by the 17-point output against Central Michigan. The biggest positive of the Hurricanes offense has been the play of redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams. In four games, Williams has thrown for 1,027 yards with seven touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Williams is also completing 72 percent of his passes.
Miami's offensive line has struggled to protect Williams, giving up 18 sacks on the year. Some of those have been Williams' fault, as he has held onto the ball too long looking for open receivers.
Because of its offensive line struggles, expect Miami to incorporate what Duke was able to do against Virginia Tech — a quick passing attack.
Also, the Hurricanes will probably lean on running backs DeeJay Dallas and Cam'ron Harris, who should take some pressure off Williams.
Virginia Tech is a significant underdog on Saturday, which is unusual given its rivalry with Miami. But considering that this is the least productive offense of Justin Fuente's tenure, it could be a long day for the Hokies.
Expect Miami to smother the Virginia Tech offense for much of the afternoon, and that should be enough to create turnover opportunities, especially with Willis under center. Playing with a short field should also benefit the Miami offense.
Two weeks ago, the Hurricanes offense struggled to move the ball, but with two weeks off, expect Jarren Williams and company to be a lot sharper. Also, if Virginia Tech's defense has to remain on the field consistently, they will begin to wear down. The advantage certainly goes to Miami if that happens.
Prediction: Miami 30, Virginia Tech 14
— 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.