ACC Battle in Blacksburg

Saturday's matchup between Virginia Tech and Miami has relatively little meaning for the Hokies in the ACC standings.

It carries plenty of weight with regard to the Hurricanes' pride.

A week after getting blown out in its final game at the Orange Bowl, Miami will look to become bowl eligible when it visits the 10th-ranked Hokies - who play at No. 16 Virginia next week with a spot in the conference title game on the line.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Virginia Tech -17 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 68% of bets for this game have been placed on Virginia Tech -17 (View College Football bet percentages).

Miami (5-5, 2-4) has lost four of five, including three to unranked teams. In order to qualify for a bowl game for the 10th straight year, they'll have to win either at Virginia Tech (8-2, 5-1) or at 18th-ranked Boston College next week.

Coach Randy Shannon, though, is concerned that his team may have already quit following a 48-0 home loss to the Cavaliers last Saturday.

"As I told those guys in the locker room after the game, if you shut it down now in life, when you leave college you're always going to be a guy that's going to shut it down and be a loser," Shannon said. "So you've got two games left. Don't go out and be a loser."

Miami faces a tough team in the Hokies, who have won seven of eight and are coming off consecutive victories over Georgia Tech and Florida State with different quarterbacks under center.

After Sean Glennon lit up the Yellow Jackets for 296 yards passing and two touchdowns two weeks ago, freshman Tyrod Taylor returned from an ankle injury against Florida State last Saturday. The two quarterbacks were sharing snaps until Glennon suffered a mild concussion in the second quarter.

Taylor went on to throw for 204 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 92 yards and another score in the Hokies' 40-21 win, prompting Florida State coach Bobby Bowden to compare him to former Hokies quarterback Michael Vick.

"I think he's made out of the right stuff," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said of Taylor. "He's kind of like our football team. He'll come back and keep battling."

Both quarterbacks should be available Saturday against a Miami team the Hokies have beaten three times in the last four meetings. Virginia Tech is 8-7 against the Hurricanes as a conference rival, first in the Big East and now in the ACC.

Even if Virginia Tech loses to Miami, its Nov. 24 game at Virginia will still be for a spot in the ACC championship game. Virginia is 6-1 in the conference and idle this week, and a win over the Cavaliers would give the Hokies the Coastal Division crown because they would own the tiebreaker.

"The ball's in our own court," Hokies senior linebacker Xavier Adibi said. "Our destiny's in our own hands and we can still accomplish a big goal that we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year: We can still get that ACC championship."

Virginia Tech will get a boost defensively with the return of linebacker Vince Hall, who missed the last four games with a broken left forearm and wrist. Hall ranks second on the team in tackles with 61 in six games.

There was talk of Miami being in the hunt for the ACC title at the beginning of this season, but the Hurricanes have proved otherwise over the last five games. After a promising 4-1 start, the team has struggled, especially offensively.

The Hurricanes can't find a reliable quarterback, as Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman have combined to throw five touchdowns and 13 interceptions in the past five games. The pass offense is ranked 110th nationally, and it won't get easier against the Hokies, whose 17 interceptions are tied for seventh in the country.

After the 48-0 loss to Virginia - Miami's worst at home in more than 60 years - Shannon said he didn't sleep and Wright said he felt like apologizing to everyone affiliated with the university. The quarterback called the loss "embarrassing."

"We can regroup," wide receiver Darnell Jenkins said, "but only if everyone wants to."

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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