The ACC Coastal Division is on the line this weekend, as second place Miami (6-1, 3-1) hits the road to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies (8-0, 5-0).
Not only is the winner likely to wind up in the inaugural ACC Championship game at the end of the season, but it will also keep the team’s national championship hopes alive.
If Miami has had a nemesis since its return to college football glory over the last few seasons, it has been the Hokies. Virginia Tech has won the last seven of 10 games between the two teams, including the last two. In 2003, the Hokies dominated the No. 2 Hurricanes 31-7, and last year they won 16-10 at the Orange Bowl.
Miami enters Saturday’s battle at No. 6 in the BCS after defeating North Carolina a week ago thanks to a dominating second half from the defense. UNC only gained 18 yards in the second half, with 14 coming in the final minute of the game. Running Back Tyrone Moss carried Miami with a career day, running for 195 yards and four touchdowns.
This week’s matchup features the top two defenses in the country. The Hurricanes are allowing only 221 yards per game, while the Hokies aren’t too far behind at 231.
When it comes to offense, the No. 3 Hokies are led by quarterback Marcus Vick, the brother of Atlanta Falcons superstar Michael Vick. The Hurricane defense will have its toughest task of the season in trying to stop the mobile QB. Vick has 14 passing and rushing touchdowns combined and is averaging 6.2 yards when he takes off and runs with the ball.
UM Head Coach Larry Coker said he knows it will be a tough task to stop Vick.
“It’s important to keep him from getting to the outside,” Coker said. “But the other thing is that he throws so well from the pocket also. He can really do it all and has those skills, but I think it’s really important for us to keep him contained.”
The former Big East foes will meet for the 23rd time, with Miami leading the all-time series 15-7. Hurricanes quarterback Kyle Wright is coming off his lowest passing totals of the year against UNC, throwing for only 111 yards and three interceptions. Moss now leads the ACC in touchdowns with 12 on the season and will look to add to his average of 96.4 yards per game.
All eyes in the college football world will be on Blacksburg, Va., on Saturday evening for a battle between the two best defenses in the land. Miami has a couple of question marks when it comes to its defensive line and injuries. Bryan Pata (knee) and Eric Moncur (concussion) have been limited in practice so far this week. Coker said he is hopeful they will be able to play.
Miami and Virginia Tech square off at 7:45 Saturday on ESPN.
Douglas C. Kroll can be contacted at email@example.com.