Tonight, the nation will have their eyes on the Miami Hurricanes, as the Canes host ACC foe Virginia Tech in a pivotal match-up in the Coastal Division.
Both of these teams know how to win primetime games on Thursday nights. Both enter the game at 6-3 and 3-2 in the ACC. The Hurricanes are 12-1 all-time in ESPN Thursday night games, while Virginia Tech is 14-3. However, the Canes and the Hokies have never met for an ESPN Thursday night game.
“It’s the primetime game, it is the college football ‘Monday Night Football,'” running back Javarris James said. “It’s a chance for the rest of the guys in the nation to see what you’ve got. Especially playing a good opponent, I know there are a lot of people around the nation that will be watching. It gives us all a chance to showcase our talent.”
Head coach Randy Shannon knows that Virginia Tech will come into Dolphin Stadium focused and motivated just because it’s a primetime game.
“Over the last five or six years, Virginia Tech is always on Thursday night games,” Shannon said. “Looking at it, I think Coach [Frank] Beamer loves Thursday night games as a coach. They get really prepared for these games. This is a tremendous challenge for us going into another ACC game.”
In spite of this, Shannon believes his entire team will be concentrated on the Hokies, including the young players.
“These [young] guys, for some reason they are different,” Shannon said. “They are very different. They’re like gym rats around here. Nothing fazes these guys like it used to in the past, because they’re used to the big crowds, the noise, what the expectations are. They just accept it and move on.”
Last Thursday night, Virginia Tech defeated Maryland, 23-13, despite both of their top quarterbacks having lingering injuries. Hokies running back Darren Evans set a school record with 253 yards.
The Hurricanes are coming off a bye week and are riding a four-game winning streak with three straight in the ACC. Two weeks ago, Miami was led by quarterback Jacory Harris in a come-from-behind win in overtime against Virginia, 24-17.
But Harris and quarterback Robert Marve were not active players last year, when Virginia Tech thumped Miami, 44-14, in Blacksburg, Va. Miami had negative yards rushing on 29 carries and were also without running back Graig Cooper.
The Canes will look to establish the run in this year’s game.
“It is important to get it going in a game like this,” James said. “We want to take some pressure off our young quarterbacks, and the running game can help those guys out a lot.”
Last season, the Hurricanes turned the ball over three times against the Hokies. This week the coaching staff has emphasized hanging onto the football.
“The biggest thing for us is not to hurt ourselves,” Marve said. “The turnover ratio, that’s what we’re focusing on.”
Over the years, the Miami/Virginia Tech game has picked up steam and become an intense battle.
“It’s a national TV game,” wide receiver Kayne Farquharson said. “This is turning into a rivalry game. Every year we play them, it’s a tough game. The only language we speak is ‘Beat Virginia Tech.'”
Still, there are some who feel this game is just like any other game this season.
“To me all games are primetime games,” Harris said. “When we play against anybody, that’s a primetime game. Virginia Tech is an opponent that’s in our way. Basically we have to win out to go to an ACC championship. That’s the bottom line.”
To get to Dolphin Stadium from the University of Miami: