Virginia Tech -2.5 at Miami O/U 50
Recommendation: See Analysis
Saturday, 12:30 pm PT - ESPN
Virginia Tech entered 2010 with an incredible string of consecutive 10-win seasons to their credit. After losing their first two games—including a defeat against FCS school James Madison at home—that string looked sure to end. But give credit to Frank Beamer’s kids, they have rattled off eight straight victories and a ninth this weekend would clinch the ACC Coastal crown.
Typically you think of strong defense and special teams leading the charge in Blacksburg but this 2010 team excels with a potent offense. You’d be hard pressed to find a more valuable player to his team in the ACC than Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. He has improved his game dramatically as a passer while still proving just as dynamic as a rusher. Taylor has thrown the second most TD passes in the ACC and is completing a career high 61% of his pass attempts. He also comes in as the conference’s tenth leading rusher. Just two years ago the Hokies barely averaged over 20 points per game with Taylor at the helm and now they rank in the top 20 nationally with over 35 ppg.
A trip to Miami is never easy however and the Hurricanes, on paper, boast a top-tier defense. At times the Hurricanes defense has looked impressive, particularly against the pass. After all Miami leads the ACC in tackles for loss and is third in the conference averaging nearly three sacks per game. But as strong as they’ve looked in the pass department they’ve largely faltered against the run. Our true rushing numbers indicate they allow an awful 5.2 ypc. This looks to be a bad matchup against the Hokies who can beat a team with the legs of Taylor as well as running backs Darren Evans and Ryan Williams. If you recall the Florida State contest on this same field you would see the style of game Virginia Tech will likely employ; a steady diet of smash mouth running that allowed the Seminoles to rack up nearly 300 yards on the ground. FSU finished with 45 points.
Plenty will be made of the potential absence of Miami quarterback Jacory Harris but we don’t feel Stephen Morris, the backup, is a significant downgrade at the position. In fact Morris has completed about the same percentage of this throws as Harris but at a better yards-per-attempt average. And the Hurricanes can still line up and run the ball effectively with a whole host of capable backs. The Hokies have given up a dreadful 6.2 ypc according to our true rushing numbers so don’t expect Miami to simply throw Morris to the wolves.
This game looks like it should be a shootout. My concern with the total sitting at 50 or more would be drives ending with threes instead of sixes and in this type of range the margin for error is quite small. Last week the Hokies settled for four field goals after drives deep into enemy territory. In the end I’ll likely take a pass here, but I’ll be tracking the game and if a second half opportunity presents itself we’ll post it up in the blog.
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