Virginia (4-3) at Miami-Florida (4-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, October 27th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sun Life Stadium (74,916) -- Miami Gardens, Florida. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Virginia 3-2, Miami 3-1. Away Record: Virginia 1-1, Miami 1-2. Neutral Record: Virginia 0-0, Miami 0-0. Conference Record: Virginia 1-2, Miami 2-2. Series Record: Miami-Florida leads, 5-3.
GAME NOTES: The Virginia Cavaliers and the Miami-Florida Hurricanes are both 4-3 thus far, and the ACC foes will collide on Thursday night in south Florida.
Mike London's second season as head coach at Virginia has yielded four victories through the first seven games, putting the team in outstanding position to contend for a postseason invitation. On a down note, the Cavaliers had a two-game win streak halted with a 28-14 loss to NC State last time out, dropping the club to 1-2 in ACC action.
The Hurricanes' season didn't get off to a promising start, as first-year head coach Al Golden saw his team lose three of its first five games, all by eight or fewer points. Fortunately, Miami has posted back-to-back wins over conference foes to move to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the ACC. Last weekend, the club put forth a tremendous defensive effort and did plenty offensively to cruise past Georgia Tech by a 24-7 final.
Miami owns a 5-3 series lead over Virginia, but the Cavaliers won last season's meeting in a 24-19 final.
Virginia is scoring 24.9 ppg this season while posting 407.4 total ypg, solid numbers for a well-balanced offensive team. The Cavaliers are rushing for 183.4 ypg at a clip of 4.6 ypc, and 13 of their 20 offensive TDs have come on the ground. Perry Jones paces the backfield with 576 rushing yards, while Kevin Parks has rushed for seven TDs in the six games he has played. Michael Rocco has started every game at QB for Virginia, but he has twice as many INTs (eight) as TD passes (four). Backup David Watford hasn't been any better, completing just 42.3 percent of his passes with three TDs and four picks.
In the 14-point loss to NC State, Rocco threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Clifton Richardson early in the first quarter, but the Cavaliers' only other points came late in the third stanza on a 60-yard TD pass from Watford to Tim Smith. The Cavs covered 132 yards on those two scoring drives, but just 117 yards the rest of the way. They were 5-of-17 on third-down conversion attempts, a disappointing ratio to say the least, and they turned the ball over four times.
Opponents are scoring 23.0 ppg and gaining 314.3 total ypg against Virginia. The Cavaliers are permitting just 3.7 yards per rushing attempt and have generated 13 takeaways to go along with their 10 sacks. Steve Greer paces the defense with 65 total tackles, and Matt Conrath has logged seven TFL thus far.
Virginia came up with a pair of takeaways against NC State and limited the Wolfpack to 7-of-19 success on third-down conversion attempts. Unfortunately for the Cavs, they were unable to notch a single sack despite the fact that the opposition passed the ball 36 times.
Attacking that Virginia defense will be a Miami squad that is averaging 29.4 ppg and 366.9 total ypg. The Hurricanes are led by quarterback Jacory Harris, who has completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 1,244 yards and 12 TDs with only four INTs in the six games he has started. His most dangerous receiver is Tommy Streeter, as he has racked up 428 yards and five scores on only 21 catches. As for the ground attack, the main man is Lamar Miller, as he has run for 799 yards and six TDs.
A solid Miami defense has enabled the club to limit foes to 21.3 ppg and 378.6 total ypg. The Hurricanes do have some room for improvement against both the run and the pass, however, as they are yielding 4.3 yards per rushing attempt and have surrendered nine passing TDs while notching a mere four INTs. One of the best defenders in all of college football is Miami linebacker Sean Spence, who has recorded 65 total tackles, including 9.5 TFL, in the six games he has played.
Against Georgia Tech last week, Miami managed only 262 total yards, but the defense yielded a mere 211 yards and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery. Harris played his worst game of the season, completing a mere 8-of-23 passes for 140 yards and no TDs with one interception. Fortunately, Miller was able to pound out 93 tough yards on 27 rushing attempts and get to the end zone once.
The Hurricanes should have little trouble cruising to victory in this affair. Coach Golden has his team playing with confidence, and the defense will certainly show up to play under the primetime lights.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Florida 27, Virginia 10
10/26 10:44:58 ET