Needing to win three of their last four games to be bowl eligible, Virginia will travel to take on a Miami Hurricanes team looking to also finish their season strong. The Hurricanes find themselves in an interesting position, still not mathematically eliminated from winning the ACC Coastal, but seemingly out of sorts enough that they fired Head Coach Al Golden mid-season. To say Virginia struggles on the road would be an understatement, but if there is any saving grace, they have had success down in Miami. Let's look at the keys to the game From the Upper Deck
Hold on to the football - Miami doesn't possess the type of defense that puts a ton of pressure on the passer ranking in bottom half in the ACC in sacks. They also rank 12th in the league in pass defense, and 13th in the league in rush defense. Where Miami wins on defense is with turnovers. They lead the league in turnover margin having recovered six fumbles and intercepted eleven passes. Against UNC, Virginia played well enough to win, however turned the ball over five times which translated into a double digit lost. Miami will let Virginia move ball, and if the Hoos can hold on to it, they may just score enough points to come out victorious.
Run, Run, and Run Some More - For weeks I have been going on about how Steve Fairchild has gotten much more creative with the run game and the quintet of Taquan Mizzell, Daniel Hamm, Albert Reid, Olamide Zaccheaus, and Jordan Ellis has really flourished. While that may be the case, the real key may be that for the last three games (beginning with Syracuse) UVA has started the same five players on the offensive line. The combination of Jack English, Ross Burbank, Jackson Matteo, Jay Whitmire, and Eric Smith has plowed the way for the Hoos to set season highs in rushing in each of those games. Miami can be run on giving up 5.4 yards per carry on the ground this season. If Virginia is going to hang with the Canes, they will do so via the ground attack.
Continue to Play with Passion - Say what you want about whether or not you think Head Coach Mike London should keep his job after this year, the fact remains that he hasn't lost this team. They are playing hard and the product on the field shows. From fighting to a three overtime win over Syracuse, to completely handling Georgia Tech, this team hasn't quit. If that passion travels to Miami, Virginia will be just fine.
Make sure to tune in Saturday at 3PM and check back Sunday to see how these keys played out in the outcome of the game.