The top Thursday night (8:00pm ET) game for week 9 of the 2014 season features an ACC rivalry game with the Miami Hurricanes (4-3) traveling to Lane Stadium/Worsham Field in Blacksburg, VA to take on the hose Virginia Tech Hokies (4-3). The Hurricanes had a bye last week, and defeated Cincinnati 55-34 at home in their last game on October 11th. In ACC play, they have defeated Duke 22-10 at home in week 5, and lost to both Louisville (31-13 in week 1) and Georgia Tech (28-17 in week 6) on the road. Virginia Tech lost 21-16 at Pitt last Thursday night, and defeated North Carolina on the road 34-17 in week 6 and lost 27-24 at home to Georgia Tech in week 4 during ACC play so far this season.
The Hurricanes rank 54th among FBS teams in scoring offense with 31.4 points per game and 53rd in total offense with 426 yards per game. Freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya runs the offense for Miami, and he has had trouble on the road this season throwing a late, game-sealing interception in each of the ‘Canes 3 road games. Running back Duke Johnson has shouldered much of the load for the Hurricanes this season, running for 787 yards and 6 TDs so far. Defensively Miami ranks 52nd nationally in points allowed with 24.4 per game and 22nd in total defense with 327.4 YPG allowed.
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Virginia Tech ranks 76th nationally in scoring offense with 28.4 PPG and 80th in total offense with 394.1 YPG.Junior quarterback Michael Brewer has a strong arm and a great deal of ability, but has a tendency to turn the ball over with 7 interceptions in the Hokies’ 3 home games and the 3rd most overall interceptions in the country (11). Running back Marshawn Williams (337 yards, 3 TDs) is expected to return for this game and should boost a unit that ran for only 26 yards on 22 carries in the loss to Pitt. The Hokies rank 19th nationally in scoring defense with 20 PPG allowed and 20th in total defense with 326 YPG allowed.
Miami vs. Virginia Tech Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Miami Hurricanes -3
@Virginia Tech Hokies +3
Over 49 (-110)
Under 49 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.ag
Miami vs. Virginia Tech Pick:
Miami and Virginia Tech both need to win this game to remain in contention in the ACC Coastal division with each team having two losses already. Miami is winless on the road so far this season, and the environment at Lane Stadium is not the easiest for a freshman QB like Kaaya to play in. He will have to deal with pressure dialed up by the Hokies’ defensive coordinator Bud Foster, as well as the crowd noise, and he has not shown the ability to be successful in that type of environment. Johnson has been outstanding running the ball for the Hurricanes, but Virginia Tech has a strong run defense ranking 30th nationally with 123.3 YPG allowed which should allow them to force Kaaya to the air and put the game in his hands.
The return of Williams should greatly aid the Hokies on offense and allow them to take some of the burden off of their turnover-prone quarterback. Virginia Tech does have its share of injuries on defense, but Coach Frank Beamer and his staff are usually able to get their players motivated and devise a game plan that puts them in position to succeed. The edge provided by the home crowd and Kaaya’s in experience tilt the scales just enough in their favor. Take Virginia Tech here.