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Gameday Preview: UM-Virginia

It's time to preview Saturday's noon kickoff when 17th-ranked Canes (6-2) take on Virginia (3-5) at Land Shark Stadium.

REWIND: The last time the Cavaliers were in Miami they closed out the Orange Bowl with an embarrassing 48-0 blowout of the Canes. UM got a little revenge last year, rallying in overtime at Virginia behind Jacory Harris for a 24-17 victory. Miami leads the all-time series 4-2. Only one of the six games has been decided by more than 10 points.

FAST FORWARD
> UM wins because... It establishes a running game, protects Jacory Harris (and Harris protects the ball), and the Canes battered defense doesn't let a bad Virginia offense play better than it is. Make no mistake about this game, the Hurricanes should win. Except for a pretty good pass defense, this is a Virginia team that ranks 105th in rushing, 100th in passing, 116th in total offense, 100th in scoring, 115th in sacks allowed, 99th in punt returns and 114th in kickoff returns. The Cavaliers have losses to William and Mary and Duke. Defensively, UM players said the key this week will be stopping what Virginia likes to do out of two tight end, two receivers sets when quarterback Jameel Sewell rolls out of the pocket and throws short to intermediate passes. We know how Miami has done covering the tight end of late. So, this will be a big game for Miami's safeties and defensive ends.

> Virginia wins because... Miami's offense gets flustered against the Cavaliers pass defense and Harris starts forcing passes and throwing interceptions. Meanwhile, Virginia takes advantage of a banged up Miami defense and runs its ball-control, smash mouth offense to perfection.

> My pick: UM 33, Virginia 17. This is just not a game I see the Canes losing. Virginia doesn't have the play makers it once had to really turn the tables on UM.

GAME BALLS
> Offense: Damien Berry. Virginia's run defense has given up an average of 151 yards per game this season. Javarris James is back this week. But I still think Berry picks up the tough yards and scores the touchdowns in the red zone.
> Defense: Randy Phillips. A huge key to this game will be UM's ability to stop Virginia's tight ends in the open field. They are monster sized. Rick Torchia is 6-6, 250 pounds and Colter Phillips is 6-6, 245 pounds.
> Special teams: Matt Bosher. Virginia is very good at forcing teams to settle for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns in the red zone (15 of the 27 trips into Virginia's red zone have ended with field goals). Bosher has been at the top of his game at late and I fully expect him to have another great day.

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