MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – Miami and Virginia Tech are hungry to get back out on the playing field to get the taste of some recent losses out of their mouth.
Both teams are removed from the national championship race, but both still have plenty to play for when they meet Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium.
“In terms of where our mentality is and what we’ve got to do, we’re going to have our hands super full on Saturday night with a Virginia Tech team that obviously has been the benchmark here in the Coastal Division (and) that’s going to give us everything we can handle,” Miami coach Al Golden said.
It could be argued that while Miami-Florida State was a big game, this one is even bigger for UM, who lost 41-14 to the Seminoles and also lost Duke Johnson for the season with a broken right ankle.
Golden has said many times, the way back to prominence for Miami starts with winning a Coastal Division title. And since the ACC went to the divisional format, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech have been the only Coastal representatives in the title game. Miami played for the ACC title in 2004 on the final day of the regular season, losing to Virginia Tech one year before the overall title game was born.
“Florida State has got to be a very, very, very talented football team,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “Because (Miami) is a very, very talented football team. So I think one more ‘very’ in there for Florida State.”
A win keeps Miami in the Coastal drivers’ seat. The Hokies know they can’t afford another slip-up.
“We did lose two games to teams that we as a unit felt that we should have beat,” Hokies wide receiver Josh Stanford said, referring to Virginia Tech’s losses to Duke and Boston College. “So this week we’re trying to get better from the last couple of weeks and improve so we can go down to Miami and play our best football — because nothing else is going to do it.”
Here’s some things to watch in this game:
REPLACING DUKE: While losing Johnson is a serious blow to Miami, there is this to consider: His backup is tied for second in the ACC with nine rushing touchdowns. Dallas Crawford has been outstanding when given opportunities this season for the Hurricanes, and assumes the role as the workhorse back. It wouldn’t be a shock if Miami passed the ball a bit more; so far this season, the Hurricanes have had about a 4-to-3 run-to-pass ratio.
SLIDING HOKIES: Virginia Tech has had only one three-game slide in conference play since joining the ACC — and that was last year. Prolonged slumps aren’t part of the Hokies’ DNA, and they know that any realistic chance of keeping some sliver of Bowl Championship Series hope probably hinges on winning this game. And Beamer has Miami’s number, having won seven of the last 10 games in the series.
QUARTERBACK PLAY: Miami’s Stephen Morris and Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas have combined for 14,675 yards and 88 touchdowns in their careers. It’s fairly obvious by now that when one plays well, his team is tough to beat. When Thomas beat Miami in 2011, he completed 23 of 25 passes and three for three touchdowns. When Morris beat the Hokies last year, he was only 13 for 28, but had two TD throws and no interceptions.
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