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We're now in the time of year when there's college football action during the week, not just on Saturdays. This week, in particular, the weeknight games are special, highlighted by our game, No. 20 Virginia at Miami. The game will be on Friday night at 8:00 P.M ET in the primetime ESPN slot.
Virginia (4-1) will enter the game on Friday well-rested. They had a bye week after their loss to Notre Dame in Week 5, one that busted their bid for a perfect season. Nevertheless, the Hoos maintained their national ranking, currently sitting at No. 20 in the AP Poll.
On the other side, Miami is fresh off a shootout loss against Virginia Tech in Week 6. The 42-35 loss to the Hokies brought their overall record to 2-3 on the season and their record against Power-5 programs to 0-3.
Last year, Virginia beat Miami in Charlottesville by a 16-13 final score. Ironically, Miami was the team ranked last year. This season, it's flipped; the Hoos are ranked and it's Miami who will host.
UVA Coming Off Bye WeekThe Virginia Cavaliers football team may have lost its most recent game Notre Dame but they still look very good in the grand scheme of things. They're easily the best team in the ACC Coastal division and the only division team with less than two losses. A spot in the ACC title game is not far-fetched, in fact, it's likely.
"It was good to be practicing again today in a game-week setting," Mendenhall said Monday afternoon. "Game week usually adds a different level of focus and urgency. Bye week there's preparation and there's study and there's reframing and resetting and renewal." Bronco Mendenhall on getting ready during a bye week.
The Cavaliers are 4-1 right now, with their only loss coming at Notre Dame in Week 5. The loss wasn't too bad (35-20) but it did highlight their weaknesses. Against the Irish, the Hoos couldn't protect their quarterback, Bryce Perkins. Notre Dame has an elite front-seven but allowing eight sacks isn't going to cut it, especially when several of the sacks led to lost fumbles.
In total, Perkins has five turnovers against ND, easily his worst game of the season. He's going to bounce back nicely against a Miami secondary that ranks 14th in the ACC in interceptions with just three in five games.
On defense, the unit is stout but they lost the field position battle vs. ND because of Perkins' fumbles. They get to the quarterback, sacking Ian Book four times, and overall, they rank No. 2 in the ACC in sacks (24).
Miami Needs Big Win Badly"If you're going to get Miami's best, it's going to be this week," said Mark Packer, host of Packer and Durham on the ACC Network.
He's right, and the reason is that Miami really has their backs against the wall. They've started out 2-3 this year, with zero wins against Power-5 programs. The three games they lost, however, were all by one score, so there's hope and that's what Packer was alluding to.
The Canes will be at home on Friday against UVA and that could be a good thing if they pick up where they left off last week against Virginia Tech. They lost 42-35 after spotting them a 28-0 lead, but, let me say that again, they spotted them a 28-0 lead, then completely outplayed Tech from then on out. They even tied the game 35-35 in the fourth quarter on the strength of four touchdown passes by N'Kosi Perry.
Seeing 42 points from Tech, you'd assume the defense is shaky, but that's not the case. The U turned the ball over five times against Tech, giving the D no chance for success. Overall, the D is allowing 21.2 points per game, less than Virginia, a defense that's regarded as one of the ACC's best, and less than 300 yards per game.
- 2-9 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- 1-11 ATS in their last 12 games in October.
- 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games in October.
- 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games on grass.
- 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 conference games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This pick is a no-brainer: Virginia is the better all-around team and they'll come into Miami with an extra week of rest and preparation. Last year, when Bronco Mendenhall had an extra week to get his team ready, the Hoos upset Miami, then ranked No. 16, on their home turf 16-13. This year, the team is more polished and they've won five of their last six. Virginia is all about impact plays on defense and that has proven to be the downfall of the Canes (in addition to their penalty issues).
Prediction: Virginia +3
Full-Game Total Pick
As I mentioned, the Hoos will have an extra week to prepare for Miami. From a defensive perspective, that's going to make a big difference and I expect the Canes to have another slow start because of it. On offense, the Hoos aren't one of those pass-happy teams. They're going to try to establish the run early and control the tempo. For Miami, they're sloppy so you can't bank on them moving the ball consistently. They're the most penalized team in the nation.
Prediction: Under 46