The homecoming football game is always highly anticipated at the University of Miami. It is the culmination of a week of events, including the annual boat burning that predicts whether the Hurricanes will win or lose that Saturday.
But this year, the Nov. 4 game will have a greater impact than just a tally in the win-loss column. If Georgia Tech defeats Virginia, the Hurricanes will have an opportunity to clinch the Coastal Division by beating the No. 13 Virginia Tech Hokies that night.
Winning the division would give Miami the chance to play in the ACC Championship Game for the first time in its history after joining the conference in 2004 after previously playing in the Big East.
But if Miami loses, it opens the door for Virginia Tech to win the Coastal down the line. While the Hokies will not have any ranked opponents on their schedule after the Canes, UM will have to match up against No. 5 Notre Dame the very next weekend – a team that is playing its best football of the season with six-straight wins.
The stakes could not be higher.
“I tell the guys, ‘One day, a Miami team will win the Coastal … Are you the team?'” head coach Mark Richt said in his weekly teleconference Oct. 29.
Virginia Tech is one of the most well-rounded teams in the country, with no glaring weaknesses. The Hokies rank in the top 20 in both points per game and yards per game, and in the top 10 in opponent yards per game allowed.
“I think they’ve been underrated from the preseason,” Richt said. “I think they are one of the better teams in America.”
UM starting quarterback Malik Rosier is dealing with shoulder soreness, but Richt said he should be fine for practice and the game. Starting freshman offensive lineman Navaughn Donaldson also should be good to play against the Hokies.
“I hope they get excited for a big moment,” Richt said. “We’re about to have a big moment whether Virginia wins or loses.”
Virginia Tech is currently the two-point favorite going into the matchup, and Miami will need fans to create a strong home-field advantage at Hard Rock Stadium.