Virginia Tech stumbled in Miami. Four turnovers and two failed fourth down plays haunted the Hokies, as they faltered against their ACC Coastal division rivals the Miami Hurricanes 28-10. The win for Miami keeps them undefeated and alive in the race for the College Football Playoffs. Meanwhile, the loss eliminates the Hokies for consideration and puts them two games back in the run for a spot in the ACC Championship Game. Here are the biggest takeaways from the ACC clash.
3. Miami Is Officially Back
The Hurricanes still have three games remaining on their docket, including a huge clash next week against No. 3 Notre Dame. Still, Saturday’s win officially stamps the program is back. Sure, they have ways to go before returning to the days of glory in the 80s and early 2000s. However, they are on the right track and are not going away any time soon.
Georgia castaway Mark Richt has found solace back in the place it all began for him at his alma mater. Virginia Tech’s long dominance of the Canes since both teams joined the ACC in 2004 is all over. This is the biggest rivalry in the ACC aside Clemson-Florida State, and one that will now go a long way in determining who represents the Coastal division in the ACC Championship for the foreseeable future.
2. Virginia Tech Lost Game in Trenches on Both Sides of the Ball
There are not many games a team will win averaging 2.4 yards a rush. That’s what the Hokies (102 yards, 43 attempts) did as they could not figure out the Hurricanes front-seven and their rushing attack suffered from it. Running backs Travon McMillian and Deshawn McClease combined for 81 yards on 24 carries that includes McMillian’s 12-yard gain on the game’s first play.
Then Miami’s defensive front was able to sack freshman quarterback Josh Jackson four times, factoring in his 12 yards for 15 rushing attempts. The lack of threat of the Hokies’ run game played a large role in Virginia Tech being 3-for-14 on third downs. Miami’s defense was stifling all night.
Virginia Tech’s front-seven was the complete opposite of Miami’s. The Hurricanes knifed through the Hokies defense. Miami rushed for 219 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Travis Homer busted a 64-yard touchdown run behind great two-level blocking in the second quarter that set the tone for the night. Quarterback Malik Rosier Jr. was able to cut through the Hokies for 84 yards on 13 rushes and his 13-yard run at the start of the fourth quarter put the game to bed.
1. Hokies Were Doomed by Missed Opportunities
The Hokies still had their chances to win the game. Its defense intercepted Rosier three times and each pick could have changed the complexion of the game entirely. Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, they failed to capitalize on two turnovers that loomed large.
Cornerback Adonis Alexander came away with a momentum-stealing pick in the second quarter with Virginia Tech trailing 14-3. The Hokies was set to close the gap, marching into the red zone. But, freshman wide receiver Sean Savoy fumbled the ball after catching a pass from Jackson. R.J. McIntosh recovered the ball with 12 seconds remaining before halftime, killing a huge opportunity for the Hokies.
The Hokies did capitalize on their second pick of the game on the opening drive of the third quarter with a touchdown to close the gap. They then got another pick off Rosier on Miami’s next possession. By that time Virginia Tech had the momentum and was set to take the lead. But, on a 4th-and-2 deep in Miami’s territory, a jet sweep call went awry when Savoy got in the path of a shotgun snap. Jackson recovered the football seven yards behind the line of scrimmage, turning the ball over on downs.
Miami responded in two plays as Rosier found Christopher Herndon for a 43-yard touchdown that all but sealed the deal. Miami went up 21-10 with seven minutes remaining in the third, and Virginia Tech never sniffed a better opportunity until the outcome was no longer in doubt.