Losing a close game against a rival team is tough, but the season continues forward.
On Saturday afternoon, the Miami Hurricanes will seek to break a two-game losing streak and get the season back on track with a matchup against their ACC foes, the Virginia Tech Hokies.
While this game still falls early in the ACC slate for the Canes, a third-straight loss would make it nearly impossible to win the Coastal Division, especially considering their next two games are against No. 5 Clemson and No. 25 Duke.
Last season, the Hurricanes delivered a 30-6 smackdown to the Hokies behind Duke Johnson’s 249 rushing yards and a dominant defensive performance. Virginia Tech will travel to Coral Gables this season hoping to exact revenge for last year’s result and trying to claim a victory that will keep them above a .500 winning percentage for the year.
With both teams desperate for a win, the Canes will need to summon their ground game, which fell flat against Florida State this past weekend. Against a Hokies defense that has allowed 190.7 rushing yards per game this season, sophomore Joe Yearby and freshman Mark Walton will need to find their groove once again.
On the other side of the ball, Miami’s defense is still not sure whether it will face starting quarterback Michael Brewer, who suffered a broken collarbone in the season opener against Ohio State. The senior quarterback has a chance of playing this week, but has yet to be cleared by the Virginia Tech staff.
In the absence of Brewer, junior Brandon Motley has stepped in but struggled to find a rhythm for the Hokies. In the past two games against Pittsburgh and North Carolina State, Motley has thrown for just 249 yards, along with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Canes’ defense needs to find a way to get pressure on the quarterback and force turnovers. Miami has had trouble creating takeaways the last two games, with the only one coming on a Rayshawn Jenkins interception against Cincinnati.
It’s still fairly early in the season and in the conference schedule, but this is about as close as the Canes can get to a must-win game. This is a winnable game that could build some momentum before two tough matchups. If they lose their third-straight game, though, things will go south quickly.
Last week’s loss to the Seminoles stung, but if the Canes have any hope of making this year a success, they will need to turn things around starting on Saturday.
The Hurricanes face Virginia Tech at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.