2008 Keys to the Game, Matchups to Watch and Game Prediction: Miami

After an impressive performance against the Maryland Terrapins last Thursday,
the Hokies ended their two-game skid and vaulted back into the Coastal Division
race. Virginia Tech will face an improving Miami squad this Thursday in a
critical ACC contest that will go a long way in determining the division
champion. The long-time rivals enter this game with identical records and a lot
at stake, so what should we expect Thursday night?

The Hokies played their most physical game of the year last week against
Maryland, and Tech should expect another bone-jarring game against an aggressive
Miami squad. The Hokies were able to impose their will on the Terps with a
resurgent running game and dominant rush defense, and Tech will enter this game
with the same goals. Most Virginia Tech-Miami games have been won in the
trenches and this year’s game should be similar, but both teams also have some
young, explosive players on offense and the capability to make big plays on
defense and special teams.

Turnovers are always critical in the Virginia Tech vs. Miami series, and this
game will likely be another defensive slugfest with field position and takeaways
being significant in determining the outcome. The team that can play with the
fewest mistakes and win the special teams battle has a very good chance at being
victorious. The Hokies have been very good at protecting the ball this year and
Miami is not forcing the usual number of turnovers, so Tech looks to have the
advantage in turnover margin. However, the Canes have made numerous big plays on
special teams this year, and the Hokies have unexpectedly struggled in the
punting game, so anything could happen Thursday night.