|2009 Virginia at Miami Point Spread Odds, Matchup & Preview|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Tuesday, 03 November 2009 12:20|
It's possible Virginia was picked because of how the Cavaliers closed out the Hurricanes' former home two years ago - before Jacory Harris arrived on campus for Miami.
Harris and the No. 16 Hurricanes look to hand the struggling Cavaliers a third straight loss Saturday when Virginia visits Land Shark Stadium two years after a memorable win over Miami at the Orange Bowl.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made Miami –13.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 81% of bets for this game have been placed on Miami –13.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Miami (6-2, 3-2) suffered one of the most embarrassing losses in the storied program's history in 2007 when Virginia won 48-0 in the Hurricanes' finale at the Orange Bowl. Miami spent 70 years at the famed stadium, had numerous former stars in attendance and was handed its worst home loss since a 70-14 defeat to Texas A&M in 1944.
Virginia (3-5, 2-2) went on to play for the ACC title that year, but has since fallen on hard times and appears headed for a second straight losing season.
The mood is different in Miami because of Harris, who split time as the starter last season before earning the full-time job in 2009. He was named conference player of the week for the third time this season for his heroics in last Saturday's 28-27 victory at Wake Forest.
Harris completed 22 of 43 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner to Travis Benjamin with 1:08 left that finished a nine-play, 82-yard drive. Miami trailed 27-14 after three quarters.
The star quarterback was sacked five times, bringing that total to 14 in the last three games, before recovering to lead the Hurricanes to victory.
"He got hit tonight," Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon said. "He got hit a lot tonight and that shows the kind of maturity he has."
Miami bounced back from a 40-37 overtime loss to Clemson the week before and maintained its hopes of winning the Coastal Division. The Hurricanes are trying to catch No. 10 Georgia Tech, which has already lost to Miami.
"It's starting to change, just a little bit," Shannon said. "We've got to stay focused as a team, but I think the players really, really, truly understand how good they can be."
Virginia is familiar with Harris after he starred in relief of a struggling Robert Marve in last year's 24-17 overtime win for Miami in Charlottesville. Harris threw a game-tying touchdown with 55 seconds left in regulation to Laron Byrd to cap a 95-yard drive and added a winning score to Aldarius Johnson in the extra session.
That started a four-game season-ending losing streak for Virginia, which has continued that dismal play in 2009. The Cavaliers gave up 16 points in the final 3:45 last Saturday in a 28-17 home loss to Duke.
Quarterbacks Jameel Sewell and Marc Verica combined to complete 13 of 38 passes for 107 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Virginia has produced an ACC-low six touchdown passes.
"We dropped some balls," coach Al Groh said. "In college football these days, with a few exceptions, success comes with the passing game."
The Cavaliers may be happy to be on the road after being booed off the field in a second straight home loss that has called into question whether Groh will return. He fired his son, Mike, as offensive coordinator after Virginia went 5-7 in 2008.
"I don't have anything to say," Groh said. "I know a lot more about the situation than probably anybody. Maybe some day I'll say what that is."
It is unclear whether Sewell will start after a chest injury forced him out of last week's loss. Verica completed 27 of 41 passes for 240 yards and one TD in last year's loss to Miami.
"We have to pick it up on every level," Cavs nose tackle Nate Collins said. "The biggest thing is that we all stay together. After a loss, it is easy for a team to start pointing fingers, and pinning the loss on certain guys. We are all a team, and we lose together just like we win together."
Posted: 11/3/09 4:20PM ET