The undefeated Miami Hurricanes (9-0) try to follow up their trouncing of Notre Dame with another win this Saturday against the Virginia Cavaliers (6-4). Kickoff will take place at noon EST from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The game can be seen on ABC.
After their impressive win over the formerly 3rd-ranked Notre Dame, the Hurricanes took their spot in the College Football Playoff rankings. They’re one of only three power-five teams still undefeated.
RB Travis Homer’s 146 yards last week cemented him as one of the better backs in the ACC. He’s been an incredible replacement for former dynamic starter, Mark Walton. As only a sophomore, he’s run for 6.7 YPC and nearly 800 yards on only 113 carries.
Hopefully now, he’ll be getting help from the passing game. QB Malik Rozier has been doing big things late in games when Miami needs them the most. But he hasn’t been playing consistently throughout contests. He was under 50% passing against North Carolina and Virginia Tech, with five touchdowns and four interceptions between those games.
And while his accuracy improved against Notre Dame, he wasn’t asked to do much (137 yards, one TD).
Virginia’s quarterback, Kurt Benkert, has been relied upon a little bit more. Recently, he’s been struggling himself to consistently find targets. He’s also thrown an interception in each of the last four games.
The Cavaliers have a couple disruptors on defense, with Micah Kiser (eight TKFL, five sacks) and Chris Peace (nine, 6.5) doing serious damage. But their defense is otherwise in the middle of the road.
They’ll come into Hard Rock Stadium as 19-point underdogs.
Coming off such a big win, it’s hard to fathom Miami not falling off just a bit. Victories like that often induce such hangovers. But expect coach Mark Richt’s club to be given the rude awakening they need to break out the turnover chain a few times in this one.
Miami has created 16 turnovers in the last four games. Benkert will have all types of trouble with a top-10 scoring defense. They bring plenty of heat from several different players and have four different defenders with multiple interceptions. Even if Virginia does start to get settled early, don’t expect that to last.
The Hurricanes secondary will face one of their toughest challenges all year. The Cavaliers have three legitimate playmaking wide receivers, led by Olamide Zaccheaus (880 all-purpose yards). If it weren’t for such a secondary (top-30 pass D), Virginia could take better advantage and probably keep the game close. But this strength vs. strength battle will be a stalemate at best for the Cavs.
And Homer will be the difference for the Hurricanes. Virginia gave up nearly 300 yards rushing last weekend against Louisville, and has surrendered an average of 233 over the past four games. It’s been their downfall in losing three of those four.
Expect this to still be a game at halftime, but for Miami to take over after that. they are on a nice 10-4 stretch ATS, and should pull away in this one to improve that record.