Coming off an emotional, double-overtime win over Clemson, Miami will face off against a Virginia team playing its best football of the season. The Cavaliers won their second game of the year last weekend in an upset defeat of North Carolina.
Saturday’s kick-off at Hard Rock Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m. Here’s what six members of The Miami Hurricane’s sports section are predicting for the game.
The University of Virginia (UVA) is coming down to Miami off the heels of an extremely impressive win on the road against No. 10 North Carolina. While this is a giant step in the right direction for a struggling UVA football program, this matchup plays in Miami’s favor, and I do not think the ‘Canes will be in too much trouble.
With Tyler Van Dyke expected to return from his injury, I think the ‘Canes will try and win this game by establishing the run early and dominating on the ground throughout. Virginia ranks an abysmal No. 103 in rushing defense in the country, allowing 176.3 rushing yards per game. This works out nicely for a Miami offense that ranks No. 22 in rushing yards per game with 193.9.
That being said, I think the ground game will open up a few deep shot opportunities for Van Dyke, and the Hurricanes’ offense will roll against a poor Cavaliers defense ranked No. 92, allowing almost 400 yards per game.
I think this matchup is perfect for the ‘Canes, who should dominate in all facets of the game en route to what I think will be a blowout victory.
Prediction: Miami 38, Virginia 17
Yes, Virginia beat the No. 10 North Carolina Tar Heels. Yes, Miami lost to North Carolina two weeks ago when they traveled to Chapel Hill. However, Miami is the better team.
Miami will prove it is the better team via the run game. Miami’s esteemed running back committee of Henry Parrish Jr., Don Chaney Jr., Ajay Allan and Mark Fletcher Jr. have combined to rush for 193.86 yards per game and 5.43 yards per carry. Those marks rank third and second highest amongst ACC teams, respectively. Virginia’s run defense, on the other hand, is one of the worst in the ACC. It has allowed the third-most rushing yards per game in the conference and the third-most rushing touchdowns.
Virginia’s defense hasn’t done well entirely this season. It has allowed opponents to score 31.14 points per game and 395.57 yards per game. With Miami’s offense having great success in the scoring department (scoring 36.29 points per game), it makes sense that it will be successful on the offensive side of the ball.
Prediction: Miami 41, Virginia 14
This could easily be another trap game for Miami, as this 2-5 Virginia team is a little better than its record might show. Three of its losses have come within one score, and it is coming off a massive upset against a UNC team that dominated Miami the week prior.
The Cavaliers’ strength comes from their passing game, which has improved since their quarterback switch to Tony Muskett, but the star of the show is Malik Washington. The nation’s fifth-leading receiver averages over 100 yards per game and has recorded six touchdowns. Against UNC, the ‘Canes struggled to handle the explosive connection between Tez Walker and Drake Maye, so if they let this duo get cooking, it could be a long day.
Miami’s advantage in this game comes in the trenches, where it should have the vast upper hand. On offense, Virginia’s line has struggled, having allowed 24 sacks and producing a meager three yards per carry. On defense, it is not much better as it has struggled to generate pressure, having produced only seven sacks and allowing 170 yards on the ground every game on a 4.5 average. Miami’s line on both ends is clearly better. It has amassed 21 sacks and only allowed eight. In the run game, Miami averaged 4.5 per carry and boasts one of the nation’s strongest run defenses.
In all honesty, this should be an easy victory for Miami. Offensively, keep things simple, play complementary football and allow Van Dyke to distribute to his three dynamic receivers on the outside. Defensively, keep Washington in check and leverage your advantage on the line. As long as Miami stays out of its own way, it should be able to cruise to a win and celebrate a big homecoming victory.
Prediction: Miami 34, Virginia 10
Both teams are coming off impressive wins heading into this Saturday’s matchup. The Hurricanes came back to beat Clemson for the first time since 2010, and the Cavaliers pulled off potentially the most shocking upset of the season as they defeated No. 10 North Carolina on the road.
The ‘Canes will likely get Van Dyke back for this game, which should help a Miami offense that looked serviceable, albeit predictable at times, against Clemson.
Virginia somewhat salvaged a train wreck of a season with its improbable win last weekend, but apart from that game, the Cavaliers have looked like one of the worst teams in the nation this season, and the defense is the main culprit. Virginia’s defense has allowed 31.1 points per game, including 35 or more points against James Madison, Tennessee, and Maryland. A talented Miami offense will make Virginia pay for any defensive mistakes.
Crazier things have happened, but I do not see a way in which Virginia captures lightning in a bottle for a second straight week and upsets Miami.
Prediction: Miami 38, Virginia 17
The Miami Hurricanes got back on the right track last Saturday night at home with a win over the Clemson Tigers. The bounce-back win for the ‘Canes puts them at 5-2 overall and 1-2 in ACC play.
Miami has an advantage in almost every statistical category. While Washington has been balling for the Cavaliers, he’s one of the lone bright spots for the team. Virginia struggles mightily defensively, and its quarterback play leaves a lot to be desired.
Head coach Mario Cristobal and the ‘Canes never like to make it easy; they’ll come out of this one with a victory, but it’ll be a little close for comfort.
Prediction: Miami 27, Virginia 20
The 2-5 Virginia Cavaliers surprised many after a major top-ten win in Chapel Hill last week. While the upset raised eyebrows, you can bet on Cristobal having his team more ready than ever.
Even with recent momentum, Miami should not have much trouble controlling this game. Virginia’s defensive struggles against the run, setting up Miami tailbacks Don Chaney, Jr and Ajay Allen for big days. The Hurricane offense should find a rhythm early and often.
On defense, Miami hopes to build off its five-sack performance against Clemson, thanks to breakout freshman Rueben Bain Jr. As long as the defense does what it has been doing, it will be in good shape. The main thing to note with this contest is how aggressive Miami will be. The coaching staff is in a spot where they need to bury the question marks regarding coach management.
The Hurricanes need a convincing win to get the ball rolling towards the end of the year. I expect Miami to get an ACC winning streak started and get to 6-2 on the season.
Prediction: Miami 31, Virginia 20