There have been a lot of changes with the Virginia Tech and Miami programs recently as the two schools are coming into their annual meeting against each other.
Virginia Tech announced on Tuesday that the school and head football coach Justin Fuente have "mutually" agreed to part ways. First-year co-defensive line coach J.C. Price will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
Also, in Coral Gables, Miami fired its athletic director Blake James two days after the Hurricanes lost at Florida State. This is important because it does not bode well for head coach Manny Diaz as the Hurricanes have underachieved this season.
Both the Hurricanes (5-5, 3-3 ACC) and the Hokies (5-5, 3-3) need one more win to become bowl eligible. Saturday will mark the 39th meeting between the teams who were members of the Big East before coming to the ACC in 2004. Miami holds a 23-15 advantage, including last year's 25-24 win in Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech at Miami
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Spread: Miami -8
When Virginia Tech Has the Ball
A weakness for Miami's defense this season has been tackling. That's why the Hokies could look to run the ball a lot during Saturday's contest.
In last week's game against Duke, the Hokies piled up 297 rushing yards, including 117 from Raheem Blackshear. Keshawn King also contributed with 90 yards and a touchdown. Statistically, the Hurricanes have done a good job against the run, ranking sixth in the ACC with 138 yards per game allowed. But it's the sloppy tackling and some inopportune breakdowns that have hurt, as Miami has given up 16 rushing touchdowns.
Everything was working for Virginia Tech last Saturday against Duke. Quarterback Braxton Burmeister also threw for 215 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. So expect a similar game plan against a suspect Hurricanes defense. Last week, Florida State put up 31 points and 424 yards, which is pretty much this defense's season averages.
When Miami Has the Ball
Last week, the Hurricanes dug themselves a 17-0 hole against Florida State before rallying to take an eight-point lead early in the fourth quarter. But Miami couldn't protect it as the Seminoles scored 11 points, the game-winning touchdown coming with less than 30 seconds remaining.
One of the keys at home on Saturday will be to get off to a better start. Tyler Van Dyke continued his solid play at quarterback since replacing an injured D'Eriq King. Van Dyke threw for 316 yards with four touchdowns but also turned it over three times (two interceptions, fumble lost). Overall, he's tossed 19 touchdowns compared to six interceptions, so he'll try and get back on track against a Virginia Tech defense that's played pretty well the last several weeks. The Hokies are second in the ACC against the pass, giving up 186.3 yards per game along with 14 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions.
Van Dyke has gotten help, namely in the form of running back Jaylan Knighton. He was held to just 32 rushing yards on 16 carries last week but leads the team with 493 yards on the ground. He's also posted 15 catches for 231 yards and three touchdowns. His eight total touchdowns are the most on the team.
The Hurricanes are averaging 38.4 points per game over the seven starts Van Dyke has made. Virginia Tech has given up that many points only once this season, a 41-36 loss to Syracuse on Oct. 23.
Both Virginia Tech and Miami are at a crossroads in their programs. The bottom line is both teams have been inconsistent, which is why each is still fighting to become bowl eligible at this point in the season.
It's going to come down to which defense can make enough stops. Miami has had its moments, good and bad, on that side of the ball. However, Van Dyke under center is the difference as he has been one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC since taking over the starting job.
It will likely be a lot of points scored at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday. Diaz would be best served to win, or the hot seat could get unbearable after a loss to another rival.
Prediction: Miami 37, Virginia Tech 27
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— 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.