The fate of the ACC Coastal division will likely favor the winner of the pivotal match up taking place at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami this Saturday. The #13 VaTech Hokies and the #10 Miami Hurricanes are the top two teams in the Coastal and nobody else is really close. The ACC powers have only each other standing in the way of a Coastal division crown and a spot in the ACC Championship Game.
The Hokies bring with them one of the nation’s best defenses, allowing only 11.5 points per contest (2nd in NCAA) and 284.5 total yards per game (9th in NCAA). Led by swarming linebackers Tremaine Edmunds (68 tackles, 2 forced fumbles) and Andrew Motuapuaka (59 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 5 hurries) the Virginia Tech defense has allowed over 20 points only twice this season. Such an outstanding defensive unit has done wonders for freshman quarterback Josh Jackson, allowing the first year starter to comfortably adjust to the collegiate game.
The Hurricanes enter the contest with a first year starter of their own, albeit a junior in Malik Rosier rather than a freshman. Rosier took the reigns as former Cane starter Brad Kaaya moved on to the NFL. At 7-0, Miami is one of four undefeated teams left in the Power Five conferences and Rosier has been a major part of the success the team has found. The Ann Arbor native has thrown 17 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions on the season.
Defensively the Hurricanes feature an average group with one crucial skill. Despite being ranked outside the top 50 in terms of total defense, the Canes are exceptionally good at pressuring the opposing quarterback. Spearheaded by sophomore defensive end Joe Jackson (31 tackles, 3.5 sacks) and junior defensive end Demetrius Jackson (18 tackles, 3.5 sacks) the Miami front seven will seek to disrupt any rhythm the young Virginia Tech signal caller will hope to establish.
Miami has the better record, and home field advantage, yet Virginia Tech has the best single unit in the game with the daunting defensive unit the Hokies have. Miami will have to hope their front seven can pressure Josh Jackson severely enough to force turnovers and poor play. If Tech’s offensive line can provide Jackson with the time he needs to make a few plays, the Hokie defense should keep Miami’s scoring low enough to give them the edge. In a low scoring affair, the edge goes to Virginia Tech 24-13.