TONIGHT – Virginia Tech at Miami
Posted Nov 1, 2012

Week 10 Fearless Predictions - Virginia Tech at Miami

Virginia Tech (4-4) at Miami (4-4) Nov. 1, 7:30, ESPN

Here's The Deal: The records say it all. Miami and Virginia Tech are no better than mediocre.

It's been many years since the Hokies and the ‘Canes were so eminently average at the same time. Lucky for both, however, they reside in a Coastal Division that has been equally middle-of-the-road. Put differently, the winner of Thursday night's game is still going to have a very shot of facing either Florida State or Clemson in the Dec. 1 ACC championship game in Charlotte.

Virginia Tech has been a major disappointment in 2012, putting their streak of eight straight 10-win seasons in severe jeopardy. The preseason favorite in the Coastal didn't look right in the opener with Georgia Tech, and has been inconsistent ever since. It's won just two of the last six games, getting crushed by Clemson before earning a week off. The Hokies used their bye to regroup, both physically and mentally, before making a run for the postseason.

Reality has caught up with Miami. The three-game winning streak that closed September has been replaced by a three-game losing streak that threatens to linger right through until the end of October. The Hurricanes aren't as good as they were when during high tide, but probably aren't as bad as they've looked in recent weeks either. This continues to be a very young team a year away from playing up to head coach Al Golden's expectations.

Why Virginia Tech Might Win: A historically bad D is the primary culprit for Miami's recent troubles. The Hokies are determined to keep the group reeling this week.

The ‘Canes rank among the nation's worst units, allowing 500 yards and 32 points per game. They're inexperienced, unable to get to the quarterback and struggling at the point of attack. The Hokies will counter with dual-threat QB Logan Thomas and a ground game that's going to play with more focus. Head coach Frank Beamer has been using a spate of backs this fall, but plans to lean on just two, likely youngsters J.C. Coleman and Michael Holmes. A green Miami secondary will also struggle to handle the size and athleticism of Tech receivers Marcus Davis, Corey Fuller and Dyrell Roberts.

Why Miami Might Win: After disappearing during the losing streak, the Hurricanes offense might be set to make a reemergence.

The defense has been by far the biggest letdown in Blacksburg so far in 2012. A group with so much promise has been replaced by one that can't slow down decent opponents, especially on the road, where Virginia Tech has yet to win a game. A week of rest has benefitted the Hurricanes, in particular the banged-up backfield tandem of QB Stephen Morris and RB Duke Johnson. When Miami was humming, Morris was teaming up with receivers Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott, while Johnson formed an ideal complement with assertive runner Mike James. The ‘Canes are capable of recapturing that form this weekend.

What To Watch Out For: On a macro level, the Virginia Tech D has missed its mark in 2012, but it has performed well in each of the last two games. Coordinator Bud Foster is aiming to build on that momentum at Sun Life Stadium.

The Hokies registered five sacks in each of the last two games, while holding Duke and Clemson well below their season average in total yards. DT Luther Maddy has provided the spark form the interior, notching a couple of sacks in each of the last two games. The raw talent is in place for the Gobblers; it always is, but they have to avoid the blown coverage and missed assignments that have plagued them for much of the season.

What Will Happen: With a chance to reset the clocks and recharge the batteries, Virginia Tech will spend one night looking more like the team that was an ACC contender than one of its biggest disappointments.

The Hokies have many of the parts needed to be successful. And with a chance to exhale and regroup for a week, they'll look like a crisper team on Thursday. Thomas will play with something to prove, and the refocused ground game will use its resources more wisely. While the Miami offense can be dangerous, something's been missing from the attack.

In a year when it has an unusually wide margin for error, Tech will move a step closer to remaining the team to beat in the Coastal.

CFN Prediction: Virginia Tech 34 … Miami 26
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Virginia Tech -2 O/U: 58
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Man With The Iron Fists, 1 – Election coverage until Tuesday morning): 3