The Miami Hurricanes are still looking for their first ACC win of the season as they help kick off the college football weekend against the no. 20 Virginia Cavaliers. Game time is set for 8:00 EST on Friday, October 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Fans can watch the game on ESPN.
Oddsmakers list Miami as 1-point favorites at home with an over/under of 45 points. Click here to check out all of this week’s college football odds.
Things have not gone according to plan for Manny Diaz in his first season as head coach of the Hurricanes. Miami is coming off a home loss to rival Virginia Tech last week. The ‘Canes once trailed 28-0 but came all the way back to tie the game at 35, only to allow a late score and lose 42-35. That was one week after the Hurricanes barely beat Central Michigan. With losses to Florida and North Carolina earlier in the season, Miami sits at 2-3 overall and 0-2 in ACC play.
The good news is that two losses aren’t a death sentence in the ACC Coastal division. The problem is that Miami is running out of time to turn things around. A loss to Virginia would surely take them out of contention in the Coastal division and start to put a bowl bid in doubt. Keep in mind that the Hurricanes will play four of their final games on the road, making home games the next two weeks must-win occasions for Miami.
As for Virginia, they had last week off to recover from their 35-20 loss to Notre Dame. The Cavs put up a good fight and actually led the Irish at halftime. However, they couldn’t overcome committing five turnovers on the road. The silver lining is that it was Virginia’s first loss of the season and wasn’t enough to knock them out of the polls.
The Cavaliers can now turn their attention to winning the ACC Coastal division. At 2-0, they are the only team in the Coastal without a conference loss, so they remain in control of their own destiny. However, Virginia is on the road for three of their next four games. It’ll be a challenge remaining unbeaten during that stretch and Friday’s trip to Miami could be the toughest game left on their schedule.
Virginia managed a 16-13 win over the Hurricanes in Charlottesville last year, ending a three-game losing streak against Miami. However, the Cavs haven’t won a game in Miami since 2011, as their recent trips to South Beach have been unkind.
Quite frankly, Miami is an impossible team to predict right now. When they’re on their game and able to execute, they have the talent to be one of the best teams in the ACC. But they’ve rarely been able to execute consistently this season. At this point, I just can’t trust them, even in a virtual PK. Virginia, on the other hand, is a legitimate top-25 team, so I feel safe taking the Cavs to win on the road.
Miami’s biggest problem at the moment is at the quarterback position. Jarren Williams was benched after three interceptions last week with N’Kosi Perry coming in and nearly leading the Hurricanes to victory with over 400 yards passing and four touchdowns. However, it remains to be seen whether Diaz is going to give Perry a chance to start or if he’ll go back with Williams. It seems like Williams has hit a wall in his freshman season, meaning that Perry probably gives them the best chance to win. But Perry is still a young quarterback who is yet to establish himself as a reliable starter, so there’s no guarantee that he’s the answer Miami needs either.
We should also keep in mind that Virginia’s defense is better than the one Perry faced last week against Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers kept Notre Dame grounded for long stretches of their game two weeks ago and have stuffed the run for most of the season. Remember that Notre Dame scored a defensive touchdown in that game and benefited from five turnovers by the Virginia offense. The Virginia defense probably played well enough in South Bend to win that game if the offense had contributed more. That gives me confidence that the Cavs can handle the Miami offense regardless of who starts at quarterback, especially since the Hurricanes may not be able to lean on their running game.
On the other side of the ball, the Miami defense had a little bit of trouble with Virginia Tech’s Hendon Hooker last week. Hooker is more or less a poor man’s version of Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins. Admittedly, the Miami defense settled in after going down 28-0 and ended up giving up less than 400 yards of offense. But Perkins is a more accomplished passer and a more experienced player than Hooker. I expect him to give the Miami defense more problems than they faced a week ago against Virginia Tech.
Ultimately, Miami has too many flaws to make me think they can beat a quality opponent. The Hurricanes have been in every game they’ve played and will be motivated to win. But I trust Virginia to grind out a tough road victory.