Big Game Preview: UVA football hosts #15 Miami Saturday night

miami uvaUVA had a 28-14 lead on Miami in the third quarter last November, which you remember, because you were screaming at the TV as it was happening.

That would turn out to be the end of the UVA football season, at least offensively.

You remember that, too.

The ‘Canes went on to win, 44-28, and the UVA offense would not score again in 2017 after the 26-yard TD pass from Kurt Benkert to Daniel Hamm that put the ‘Hoos up two scores.

It’s cliché, but that was a different Virginia football team, and a different Miami team as well.

The ‘Canes would not win again in 2017, falling at Pitt by 10, getting blown out by Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, then losing to Wisconsin by double-digits in the Orange Bowl.

Miami would then lose its fourth straight in the 2018 season opener, the doors blown off by LSU in a game that would have a final score of 33-17, but The U trailed 33-3 before LSU called the dogs off late.

Since, UM (5-1, 2-0 ACC) has beaten precisely no one of consequence, and no, I’m not overlooking Florida State in making that assessment.

FSU, which is trash, led the Hurricanes 27-7 in the third quarter before Miami was able to rally to a 28-27 win, leaving you to wonder: which Miami does UVA (3-2, 1-1 ACC) get on Saturday night in front of another half-empty Scott Stadium?

It would seem that the ‘Canes are resting upon the laurels of the 41-8 smackdown of Notre Dame last Nov. 11, the last impressive performance for the program, and maybe one of two for UM in the past two seasons.

That same UM team had to rally to beat another trash FSU team in the final seconds last season, before then having to rally to beat a stinking pile of garbage Georgia Tech, then holding off 4-8 Syracuse and 3-9 UNC.

Credit were credit is due: before the whuppin’ of Notre Dame, Miami also handled Virginia Tech, winning 28-10.

Do note: both of those wins came at Hard Rock Stadium. Home games.

Over the past two seasons, Miami on the road has had the issue at FSU, the uncomfortably tight one-score win at UNC, the inexplicable loss at Pitt to finish out the 2017 regular season.

But, hey, there was that big win at Toledo.

Matchups: UVA vs. Miami

Miami offense vs UVA defense: Miami is third in the ACC in scoring, at 41.5 points per game, and ninth in total offense, gaining 409.5 yards per game. The numbers can be deceiving: in the games against LSU and FSU, the averages go down to 22.5 points and 324.0 yards a game. N’Kosi Perry was taken over for last year’s starter, Malik Rosier, and has thrown for 11 TDs, though he is completing just 56.6 percent of his passes. The ‘Canes have been effective on the ground, gaining 194.8 yards per game, seventh-best in the ACC, and is averaging 4.6 yards per attempt. Virginia is suddenly susceptible to the run, trying to account for the loss of inside linebacker Jordan Mack, and struggling against the ground game in the 35-21 loss at NC State two weeks ago.

UVA offense vs. Miami defense: The Turnover Chain, dammit. Miami has a modest 14-9 advantage in forced turnovers through six games, but the ‘Canes have a massive 69-16 edge in points off turnovers. Miami leads the ACC in total defense (237.5 yards per game), and gave up just 248.0 yards per game in its matchups with LSU and FSU. The UVA offense is coming off its poorest showing to date in 2018, gaining 351 yards and turning the ball over twice in the loss at NC State.


Line: Miami -6
ESPN Football Power Index: Miami 73.4 percent win probability

How this one plays out

You’d love it if the UVA fan base would respond to having a Top 15 team coming to Charlottesville on a Saturday night on ESPN, but reality check: Scott Stadium will have wide swaths of empty seats.

The ‘Hoos need to avoid the turnovers, which, thanks, Captain Obvious.

Miami is pedestrian on offense, but as long as Perry avoids making mistakes, it will be on Virginia to shake things up.

Is UVA QB Bryce Perkins up to the challenge? This game will come down to his arm and his feet.

Prediction: Miami 20, Virginia 14

Preview by Chris Graham

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