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Gameday blog: Virginia Tech-Miami

SUN LIFE STADIUM -- The 24th-ranked Canes (7-3, 5-2) will try to keep their hopes of reaching the ACC Championship alive when they take on 14th-ranked Virginia Tech (8-2, 6-0) at 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN and can be heard on WQAM.com. Feel free to follow along and participate in our discussion below.

REWIND: UM is 17-10 all-time against the Hokies, but is 2-5 in the last seven meetings including last year's 31-7 loss in Blacksburg. UM knocked off Virginia Tech 16-14 the last time the Hokies visited South Florida in 2008.

ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH: Virginia Tech has won eight in a row since they opened the season with losses to Boise State and James Madison. With a win over the Canes, they'll clinch the Coastal Division crown for the fifth time in the last seven years. Virginia Tech is led by quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who has completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 1,988 yards, 18 TDs and four INTs. He's also run for 581 yards and 3 TDs. The running game is led by Darren Evans (605 yards, 9 TDs). David Wilson (462 yards, 4 TDs) and Ryan Williams (262 yards, 5 TDs) also carry the ball plenty. Defenisvely, sophomore linebacker Bruce Taylor (77 tackles) is the leader. He leads the team in tackles for loss (15) and sacks (6). Sophomore cornerback Jayron Hosley has seven of the teams 16 INTs. The Hokies have three different players handling the kicking dutires. 


> Red Zone and 3rd down execution... It's been the focus in practice for UM all week. The Hokies convert 43 percent of the time on third down offensively (41st nationally) and are good in both red-zone offense (they've scored on 43 of 48 drives inside the 20, 90 percent clip) and red-zone defense (they rank 14th, 72%).

> Will Jacory Harris play... He practiced all week in a non-contact jersey. But conspiracy theorists believe UM coach Randy Shannon might throw a curveball at Virginia Tech and play him alongside freshman Stephen Morris. To me, whether or not Harris plays isn't as important as if UM maintains the same game plan they've had the last two weeks -- running the football. UM has pounded opposing teams into submission the last two weeks. Virginia Tech's run defense ranks 65th in the country -- giving up 155 yards a game. The pass defense? Much better (21st overall, 188 yards per game).

> Leonard Hankerson vs. Jayron Hosley/Hokies pass defense... Even though UM has run the ball plenty lately, they'll still have relied on the pass to produce points. Hankerson has been the go-to-guy for those big plays, hauling in a 79-yard TD pass last week at Georgia Tech and the game-winning TD pass versus Maryland. He is sure to be closely guarded by Hosley, arguably the best corner in the ACC.

MY PICK: Three-game winning streaks are pretty rare at UM these days. Since UM rattled off five in a row in 2008, the Canes have had only one three-game winning streak -- Oklahoma, FAMU, UCF. Since then, it's been a steady pattern of two wins followed by a loss. Time to break the trend. I'm picking the Canes here based on their running game. They'll pound Virginia Tech and hold Taylor out of the end zone just enough. MIAMI 27, VA. TECH 24.

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