The ACC title will be on the line Saturday at the Orange Bowl when the Hurricanes battle the Virginia Tech Hokies.
The Hurricanes defeated Wake Forest handily two weeks ago while Virginia Tech had a huge win against intrastate rival Virginia last week.
Miami comes into the game ranked No. 10 in the Bowl Championship Series while the Hokies are No. 12. The winner of this game will get an automatic bid into the BCS.
Virginia Tech enters the game with a 9-2 record, with losses coming to top-ranked USC and unranked North Carolina State. However, the Hokies arguably should have beaten USC and their loss to NC State was a 17-16 game.
The Hokies have been playing their best football as of late. They have not lost since Sept. 25 and have obtained victories over Virginia and West Virginia and solid road wins against North Carolina and Georgia Tech.
“They have really got good during the year. They have improved a lot from the beginning of the season,” Head Coach Larry Coker said.
The Hokies’ offense is led by Bryan Randall, who has hurt many teams with his playmaking skills and mobility. Randall has 17 touchdowns to just seven interceptions on the season. The Hokies running game features Mike Imoh and Cedric Humes. These two backs have combined for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns, with an average per rush of just under five.
“They can really run the ball and their quarterback is outstanding,” Coker said. “He knows their offense and he knows their offense. He is a lot like our quarterback in a way because he doesn’t need to throw for a million yards; he just wants to make plays to win the games.”
Defensively, the Hokies have been playing well and shut down Virginia last week, holding them to only 10 points. The Hokies defeated Miami in Blacksburg last season, but Coker said that wouldn’t play a factor in this game.
“That was last year and if we would have won 31-7, it still would have been last year. It won’t help us this year, and we need to do what we have to do to win this game,” Coker said.
For Miami’s part, the Hurricanes have rebounded nicely from back-to-back losses to North Carolina and Clemson with two straight victories against Virginia and Wake Forest. In order for the Hurricanes to win, they have to play well on both sides of the ball. The key will be keeping the Hokies offense off the field and controlling the tempo.
“They are going to make some plays and we are going to make some plays, but we can’t allow them to control the clock and control the offense,” Coker said.
Playing for an ACC title in their first season in the conference is special for both teams. Both Miami and Virginia Tech came from the Big East last season, and now, the two former Big East schools will be playing for the ACC Championship. Therefore, this game means a little bit more to the Hurricanes.
“We know they are good because we have played them for years…This is a championship game,” Coker said. “There are only about half a dozen teams playing for anything right now.”
Darren Grossman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.