Hokies will close the gap on Texas by topping Miami
Posted: Friday November 4, 2005 12:00PM; Updated: Saturday November 5, 2005 1:44AM
All season, college football fans have been pointing to a potential epic showdown in the Rose Bowl between USC and Texas. While it's clear the two-time defending national champion Trojans are No. 1, there's been debate about No. 2. Virginia Tech has made a strong case that it deserves the nod and the Hokies can bolster their cause with a convincing win over Miami.
(5) Miami vs. (3) Virginia Tech
7:45 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Lane Stadium (65,115)
Marcus Vick has been the key to Virginia Tech's offensive attack -- both inside the pocket as a paser and outside as a runner.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Anyone who watched Virginia Tech's 30-10 thrashing of Boston College last Thursday had to have come away impressed. The offense moved the ball efficiently, the defense was stout and the Hokies controlled the line of scrimmage. QB Marcus Vick has been terrific this season, completing 69 percent of his passes for 1,534 yards and 11 TDs. His ability to keep defenses honest by staying in the pocket has enabled Tech's running game to flourish. Vick has blazing speed and can run when he needs to (319 yards, 3 TDs) but he's not the run-first QB his brother is. Tech's stable of backs -- Mike Imoh (400 yards, 4 TDs), Cedric Humes (365 yards, 5 TDs) and Branden Ore (330 yards, 3 TDs) -- can grind it out. The Hokies also have a trio of big-play pass catchers in receivers David Clowney and Eddie Royal and tight end Jeff King (5 TDs).
As good as the offense is, the Hokies' defense has been better. Tech leads the nation in scoring defense (9.1 points per game) and is second in total defense (231.3 yards per game) and passing D (139.0). It all starts up front, where ends Darryl Tapp and Chris Ellis have combined for 53 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. Linebacker Vince Hall leads the team with 70 tackles and Jimmy Williams is a lockdown corner who often forces teams to throw to the other side of the field.
Miami's offense has been shaky at times -- the Hurricanes' season-opening 10-7 loss to Florida State may have set offense back 50 years -- but has shown life recently. Quarterback Kyle Wright has steadily improved and running back Tyrone Moss, who saved Miami with a career-high 195 yards and four touchdowns in a comeback win over North Carolina last Saturday, is a beast. Sophomore tight end Greg Olson leads the 'Canes with 24 receptions, but they don't have a game-breaker at wideout.
The Hurricanes do have plenty of talent on defense, however. They lead the nation in total defense (221.6 yards per game) and held North Carolina to 18 yards of offense in the second half last week. Up front, Miami is deep, fast and ferocious and the 'Canes are loaded in the secondary, led by safeties Brandon Meriweather (a team-leading 68 tackles and nine tackles for loss) and fantastic freshman Kenny Phillips. If Miami can keep constant pressure on Vick, the 'Canes should force some turnovers.
Both defenses are outstanding and have the ability to control the game. But three factors swing this game in Virginia Tech's favor: 1. The Hokies' offense is far superior to the 'Canes'; 2. Tech is outstanding on special teams and can produce momentum-shifting plays and 3. The Hokies are extremely tough to beat in Blacksburg, where they have won seven of their past 10. That's why Virginia Tech will handle Miami and close the gap on Texas in the BCS.
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