MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Hurricanes and the Virginia Tech Hokies have had seasons both fanbases would like to forget, but both are still in position to make it to the ACC Championship game if they win the rest of the games, starting with a Thursday night matchup at Sun Life Stadium.
Both teams are 4-4 entering Thursday’s game and both have to win out to win the Coastal Division in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Virginia Tech is used to being in the ACC title game, while UM would like to return to likely play the Florida State Seminoles again.
The Canes have struggled in their last three games, losing all three. However, two of the Canes’ three recent losses were against top ten teams. Virginia Tech has won the last three games in the series with UM including a Hurricanes heartbreaker last season.
Virginia Tech’s offense is led by quarterback Logan Thomas. The 6’6”, 260 pound quarterback has thrown for 1,910 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions on the season. He’s also rushed for 298 yards this season.
But, the Hokies haven’t been able to get out of their own way and have lost games to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, North Carolina, and last week’s game against Clemson.
Tech’s offense is averaging 29 points per game and roughly 4.35 yards per running attempt. But, the offense gets bogged down on third down and is converting just 39.8 percent of third downs, according to cfbstats.com.
Tech’s success over the last several years has been thanks to its defense. This season, the Tech defense has taken a step back, giving up 24 points per game, but also dealing with a lot of young players on that side of the ball.
That’s a situation University of Miami head coach Al Golden can certainly understand. He’s had to play a plethora of freshman and sophomores this season and the defense has been just abysmal this season.
Overall, the Canes are ranked 120th out of 124 teams in total defense, giving up 499.1 yards per game. The Canes are giving up 32 points per game and more than 5 yards per carry. Miami has given up at least 30 points in six of its games this season heading into Thursday’s game.
Miami’s offense will once again be led by quarterback Stephen Morris and running back Duke Johnson. Morris has been one of the bright spots for the Canes in 2012 and has passed for more than 2,200 yards, while completing 58 percent of his passes for 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Johnson is arguably the most electrifying player the Canes have on their roster. He’s rushed for 455 yards and five touchdowns in 2012 and caught 21 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown. He’s also averaging 28 yards per kickoff return and has returned one kick for a touchdown in 2012.
Looking at both teams’ remaining schedule, Miami has a much easier path to the ACC Championship game than Virginia Tech. Miami plays at Virginia, is home against South Florida, and then closes the season on the road at Duke.
Virginia Tech plays next Thursday at home against Florida State, then travels to Boston College, before returning home to play Virginia.
But before either team can start making plans for December, they have to win at Sun Life Stadium Thursday night.
The game is set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Sun Life Stadium and can also be seen on ESPN.