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at Virginia Tech 38 … Miami 35

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 8, 2011


Week 6 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Miami at Virginia Tech


2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 6 - Miami at Virginia Tech

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Oct. 8 at Virginia Tech 38 … Miami 35
CFN Analysis: The Hokies managed to keep their head late when all the momentum was going Miami’s way. After the Jacory Harris and Lamar Miller got red hot, the Hokies needed to get the defense off the field, but instead, Logan Thomas came up with the drive and the final score he and the team needed to avoid a disastrous home loss that would’ve put a serious crimp in any ACC title hopes. The concern, though, is that the defense is nowhere near up to snuff allowing the Canes to roll at will late a week after Clemson had so much success, but Thomas was phenomenal, completing 23-of-25 passes for 310 yards and three scores, while running for two touchdowns, in what might be his breakthrough game. If he can keep playing this well, the offense should pick up the slack for the struggling D going into the suddenly huge showdown at Wake Forest.

It might have taken a while to get going, but the Miami offense came to life with Jacory Harris finishing with 267 yards and three scores and Lamar Miller going wild running for 166 yards and a score and catching a touchdown pass, but the rally wasn’t enough. The defense couldn’t come up with a key stop early and couldn’t hold on late, with the secondary having major problems slowing down Logan Thomas and a Hokie passing game that’s not nearly as good as it looked. At 0-2 in the ACC there’s no margin for error, but there’s still time. With North Carolina and Georgia Tech up next, though, it’ll take a steadier effort with both sides of the ball playing sharper and better. Harris has to be great for a full sixty minutes.

(AP) BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Logan Thomas ran 19 yards for a touchdown with 56 seconds to play Saturday, capping a wild fourth quarter as No. 21 Virginia Tech beat Miami 38-35.

The Hokies (5-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) rescued their chances of contending in the Coastal Division with the dramatic rally, and may have killed the hopes of Miami (2-3, 0-2).

They did it less than 2 minutes after Lamar Miller scored on a 30-yard burst for the Hurricanes, giving them a 35-31 lead and forcing Thomas and the Hokies to respond.

Thomas did, with a big assist from tailback David Wilson, driving the Hokies 77 yards in eight plays, and capping the drive with a fourth-down run on which he went virtually untouched for the score.

It erased a remarkable comeback by Miller, who ran for 166 yards on 18 carries, Jacory Harris and the Hurricanes, who trailed 21-7 early in the third quarter before getting hot.

And getting help.

On a third-and-4 from his own 23, Harris looked for Travis Benjamin deep and rover Eddie Whitley tried to break on the ball for an interception. He missed, and Benjamin went 77 yards for the score.

That made it 21-14, and defense seemingly took the rest of the game off.

The Hokies drove to the Miami 11 before Cody Journell kicked a 28-yard field goal.

Miami answered by going 89 yards in 12 plays. Harris hit Clive Walford for 25 yards on a flea flicker, and the only third-down conversion in the drive came on a 2-yard run by Mike James from the Hokies' 6. On the next play, Harris hit Tommy Streeter for the touchdown, beating All-American cornerback Jayron Hosley in one-on-one coverage the left corner of the end zone.

With the crowd suddenly very quiet, Thomas loosened them back up, finding Jarrett Boykin downfield on the first play after the kickoff went out of bounds for a 60-yard scoring play.

The play rebuilt the Hokies' lead to 31-21, but also put their defense back on the field.

Miller went 37 yards on the first play, but the Hokies appeared to have Miami facing a fourth-and-20 at their own 38 after J.R. Collins sacked Harris. Collins, however, was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play, a 15-yard penalty and automatic first down, and Miami had life again.

Miller went for 18 yards, and on a second-down play from the 16, Harris lateraled to Phillip Dorsett, who then hit a wide-open Miller on the far side of the field for the touchdown.

That made it 31-28, and Miami followed by holding Virginia Tech without a first down.

After Michael Branthover's punt was downed at the Hokies' 42, Miami drove to the 6, but then went backward thanks to a holding call and a personal foul against Seantrel Henderson.

Facing second-and-goal from the 30, however, Miller broke through the right side of the line and scored easily, giving the Hurricanes their first lead with just 2:51 remaining.

That put the heat back on Thomas, who was sharp all day, and on Wilson.

Wilson, who finished with 128 yards on 23 carries, had an 18-yard run on the drive, but the Hokies still faced fourth-and-1 from the 19 with 1:01 left when Thomas faked a handoff to Wilson, freezing the defense just enough, and then bolting through a hole to score easily.

It capped a great afternoon for Thomas, who was getting criticism after the Hokies managed only 258 yards last week and went without a touchdown at home for the first time since 1995 in a loss to Clemson.

Thomas finished 23 for 25 for 310 yards, and his only two incompletions were a short pass that Wilson dropped, and a pass that Thomas threw away after picking up a bungled snap. Harris was good, too, going 13 for 21 for 267 yards with three TDs.

The Hurricanes looked sharp at the start. Harris hit Clive Walford for 24 yards on their second play of the game, and later hit Tommy Streeter for 26 yards as Miami drove to the Hokies' 14. But on fourth-and-1, the Hurricanes tried a fake field goal and Virginia Tech stuffed it.

Miami (2-2) at Virginia Tech (4-1) Oct. 8, 3:30, ESPN/ABC

Here’s The Deal … Not too long ago, this divisional showdown had quite a bit more appeal than it does right now. Virginia Tech is no longer the favorite for a second-straight ACC championship after being humbled at home by surging Clemson, 23-3. After fattening up against lesser competition in September, the Hokies got exposed in their first game versus a ranked team. With that one-sided defeat, Tech’s margin for error in the Coastal Division has vanished, especially considering how well Georgia Tech has played in the first half of the year. Miami pretty much left the national radar when it lost to Kansas State, 28-24, on a failed attempt to punch in the game-winning score as the waning seconds ticked off the clock.

The Hurricanes followed up that effort by looking uninspired a week ago for a visit from Bethune-Cookman. Although the final score said 45-14, the fine print indicates that the ‘Canes were only leading by a touchdown when the fourth quarter began. The loser of this game in Blacksburg can pretty much forget about a chase for a divisional crown.

Why Miami Might Win: If the ‘Canes are going to quiet the Lane Stadium crowd, it’ll probably do so with their defense. The Hokies are sputtering with the ball, unable to generate consistency from anyone except RB David Wilson. Their receivers are banged up, line play has been mediocre and young QB Logan Thomas has been slow to adapt to his expanded role within the offense. Virginia Tech hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since the Arkansas State game three weeks ago, which will allow Miami to shift more resources to stopping Wilson. The Hurricanes will enjoy a speed and quickness advantage at the point of attack, employing LB Sean Spence, DE Marcus Robinson and DT Marcus Forston to further shake up the confidence of Thomas. Plus, the return form suspension of S Ray-Ray Armstrong is going to be an added bonus.

Why Virginia Tech Might Win: While the Miami D has been good, Tech’s has been much better. The Hokies rank in the top 10 nationally in sacks, run defense, pass efficiency defense and scoring D, and just got done holding fast-paced Clemson to season-lows in yards and points. On offense, the ‘Canes share many of the Hokies’ problems, getting bursts from RB Lamar Miller, but not enough support from the passing game. Tech can get into the head of error-prone QB Jacory Harris with heat and sticky coverage. From DE James Gayle to CB Kyle Fuller, coordinator Bud Foster will dial up the pressure. And the other corner, Jayron Hosley, is a proven pickpocket capable of quarantining half the secondary on Harris.

What To Watch Out For: Which of the inconsistent quarterbacks does a better job of protecting his dynamic back? That’s sort of what this game comes down to, doesn’t it? Both defenses have far too much range and talent to be beaten by monotone offensive attacks. Harris has the upper hand in experience, but his decision-making is often in question. Thomas looks the part by just about every possible measurement, yet is unmistakably raw. Whichever passer finishes with a higher rating will be on the victorious side of this game.

What Will Happen: Virginia Tech got its one really awful game of the year out of its system. Now it’s back to the business of being a 10-win team. The Hokies will remain unbalanced until Thomas comes around, but the defense will provide the difference on Saturday afternoon. Tech will not only limit Miami’s forward progress, it’ll also win the turnover battle, which will be especially crucial in a low-scoring defensive struggle. Although neither quarterback is going to steal the spotlight on this day, a couple of misplaced throws from Harris will prove to be too much for the Hurricanes to overcome.

CFN Prediction: Virginia Tech 23 … Miami 14
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Virginia Tech -7.5  O/U: 44.5

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