The No. 11 Miami Hurricanes will look to rise up the rankings with a win over the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami is having a strong start to the year at 4-1 after taking down the Pittsburgh Panthers 31-19 as an 11.5-point favorite last weekend. Virginia is now 1-3 after falling at the Wake Forest Demon Deacons as a 2.5-point underdog, the third consecutive loss for the Cavaliers.
Miami survived a 17-9 slugfest last year at home for their fourth win in five years in the series between the two ACC teams.
(Late line movements and injury reports are updated as of Saturday afternoon.)
The line has moved toward the hosts in this one, furthering their favorite status by double-digits. Miami (FL) opened as a 10.5-point favorite when the lines came out and, as of Saturday, is favored by 14 or 14.5 points depending on what sportsbook you’re looking at. 70 percent of the bets ATS are backing the Hurricanes and giving the points at home in this contest.
The total for this contest has trended downward this week. After opening at 59.5 points, the total can now be found at 54 or 53.5 points, depending on the sportsbook. 54 percent of the bets on the total is expecting this contest to go Over the total.
Game-time Weather: Temperature at kickoff is expected to be in the high-70s for this contest with the real-feel reaching into the low-80s. The temperature will climb to near 80 during the game with the real-feel hitting the mid-80s during the contest. There is a coin-flip chance of thunderstorms in the first half of the contest though that drops to around 35 percent in the second half. Winds are from the east around nine miles an hour with the gusts kicking up around 13 miles per hour for this one.
Virginia drops third straight gameAfter opening the season with a comfortable win against the Duke Blue Devils, the wheels have come off for the Cavaliers with three straight losses by 17 or more points. It was a back and forth first half, as touchdown runs by Wayne Taulapapa and Irkan Armstead helped Virginia tie the score at 20 heading into the break. Virginia's offense crumbled in the second, and a pair of touchdowns by ACC Player of the Week Kenneth Walker III in the fourth quarter put the game away for the Demon Deacons.
"At that point, we had played the run game very well, up until that point. A run game or a running play goes out the gate for a touchdown immediately following, we muff a kickoff return and then an interception," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall to virginiasports.com. "And so really those three plays back-to-back-to-back, changed the outcome."
With Brennan Armstrong held out due to a concussion, Lindell Stone got the start under center for the Cavaliers and completed 24 of 42 passes for 193 yards and two interceptions, with Armstead and Keytaon Thompson also taking several snaps at quarterback. The Cavaliers allowed Wake Forest 309 yards through the air on just 16 completed passes.
Virginia is now 2-2 against the spread for the year, with one of those covers coming in a strong effort in a 41-23 loss to the top-ranked Clemson Tigers as a 27.5-point underdog. All four of Virginia's games have gone over the betting total.
The passing game is a major area of concern, as Armstrong threw more interceptions than touchdowns before missing most of the last two games, and Stone has completed 55 of 97 passes for 426 yards, three touchdowns and three picks. Billy Kemp ranks eighth nationally with 36 receptions, going for 316 yards and three scores.
Virginia is averaging 423 yards per game, but has been hurt badly by 12 giveaways as the Cavaliers have a middling scoring total of 26.2 points per contest. The Cavaliers' defense has been even more of a concern, surrendering 34.8 points per game on 5.8 yards per play allowed.
It doesn't seem likely that Armstrong will have recovered from the concussion by Saturday as Mendenhall mentioned using the three quarterback system again. Thompson was unable to throw a pass due to a shoulder injury, but did provide a spark in more of an option look with 10 carries for 71 yards. Joey Blount, De'Vante Cross and Brenton Nelson, all key members of the secondary, missed portions of the Wake Forest game and their injury statuses have not been updated.
OUT: WR Nathaniel Beal III, DB Tenyeh Dixon, DT Aaron Faumui, RB Mike Hollins, WR Ugo Obasi, WR Dontayvion Wicks
Questionable: QB Brennan Armstrong, WR Ra’Shaun Henry, RB Ronnie Walker Jr.
Miami defense shuts down PittsburghMiami bounced back quickly from its first loss of the season at the hands of Clemson, holding Pittsburgh out of the end zone in the first half. D'Eriq King threw touchdown passes to Cam'Ron Harris and Will Mallory to open up a 14-6 lead. An interception returned to the one-yard line helped the Panthers score their first touchdown in the third quarter, but King connected with Mallory on a 45-yard strike two drives later to push the lead to 28-16 and effectively put the game away.
It was a strong performance from a Miami defense that projected to be one of the best in the ACC entering the season, as Pittsburgh managed 300 total yards including 26 on the ground in 22 carries. King finished 16 of 31 for 222 yards and four touchdowns while also leading the Hurricanes in rushing yards.
“You need to have a toughness about you…It comes down to the culture of the defense. There was some really good play calls, I thought Blake Baker had some good blitzes down there that were timely and created some pressure," said head coach Manny Diaz of his defense to 247sports. "Then the other thing is just effort. Our guys were getting off blocks and not letting it happen."
Miami's record of 4-1 against the spread matches their straight up record, as they were unable to cover as a two-touchdown underdog in the 42-17 loss to Clemson but have otherwise looked good in four games as a favorite. The over has gone 3-2 in Miami's five games as the two teams went past the total of 46.5 last weekend.
King, a transfer from Houston, has rejuvenated a Hurricanes offense that was miserable a season ago, completing 90 of 152 passes for 1076 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions, to go along with 272 yards and two scores on the ground. Despite the poor game on Saturday, Harris has been effective as a lead back with 58 carries for 338 yards and five touchdowns and is a pass-catching threat from out of the backfield.
Miami is averaging 35.6 points per game, nearly 10 points better than its mark in 2019, on 407 yards per game and 5.8 yards per play. The Miami defense is allowing 23.8 points per game on 396.2 yards per contest, and is now only allowing four yards per rush after the dominant showing against Pittsburgh.
Tight end Brevin Jordan, the team's leading receiver, missed the game last weekend with a shoulder injury and is questionable, although his replacement Mallory had a big game against the Panthers. Second-string running back Donald Chaney Jr. also has a shoulder injury and is questionable.
OUT: OL Navaughn Donaldson, OL Kai-Leon Herbert, OL Zalon’Tae Hillery, QB Tate Martell, S Avantae Williams
Questionable: RB Donald Chaney Jr., TE Brevin Jordan, OL Issiah Walker Jr.
Trends via Covers.com Miami is:
- 6-2 ATS in its last eight ACC games
- 4-1 ATS in its last five home games
- 2-5 ATS in its last seven road games
- 1-4 ATS in its last five games as a road underdog