It’s a prime time showdown for Miami and Virginia who meet tonight.

Miami opened as a -15 point favorite but the number has dropped to 13.5 in most spots. The total opened at 48.5.

The Hurricanes will be looking for their third straight win and a little payback after losing to the Cavs in Jacory Harristhe same matchup last year as a -14 point favorite. Miami is 4-3 SU & ATS, 2-2 in conference play and 3-1 at home. The U is also on a 3-0 run against the spread in their last three games overall and on Thursday nights. Miami played one of its best overall games of the season last week beating Georgia Tech 24-7 and covering as a -3 point favorite.

The Cavaliers who suffered a two touchdown loss to North Carolina State in their last outing are 4-3 SU & 2-5 ATS, 1-2 in the ACC and 1-1 on the road. Virginia is also a money making 6-1 to the ‘under’ this season. The Cavs are coming off a 28-14 home loss to NC State as -3 point favorites.

Better balance

Miami has the better playmakers but both teams have struck a nice balance between the pass and the run. Virginia is 36th in the nation in rushing yardage (183.1) and while the passing game (224 yards per game) is ranked 67th for a total yards average of 407. The Hurricanes are putting up similar numbers; 154 on the ground and 227 through the air. The difference tonight could be Canes QB Jacory Harris. The senior signal caller has thrown for 1244 yards along with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. Unlike his first two years in Miami, when he was a walking, talking turnover machine, he’s cut back on the mistakes.

RB Lamar Miller is averaging 114 yards and leads the team with 799 rushing yards. He’ll likely find the sledding tough against the Cavaliers who have the 12th best run defense in the nation (176 yards allowed per game). 

Stop the run

Canes coach Al Golden says he’s pleased with the improvement of his run defense which limited Georgia Tech to just 134 yards last Saturday but can they keep Virginia’s RB trio of Perry Jones, Kevin Parks and Clifton Richardson in check? Jones leads the team in rushing yards with 576, Parks has a team high seven touchdowns while Richardson’s yards per carry average of 5.9 is tops on the team.

Platoon

How does Virginia's two-quarterback rotation of Rocco and Watford, who've both played in every game, play out this week? Rocco has thrown for 1186 but has eight interceptions and just four touchdowns. The freshman Watford has completed just 42 percent of his passes and like Rocco has more picks than scoring tosses. Coach Mike London says he’s altering the platoon and will give Rocco more playing time but Watford will continue to see action.

Last time around

The Cavaliers had five interceptions in a 24-19 victory over the U in Charlottesville last year covering as a two-touchdown underdog. The combined 43 points stayed well below the total of 51.5.

Trends

The 'Canes are 15-2 all-time on ESPN Thursday night games while the Cavs are 2-6 ATS in the same category. Virginia has failed to cover in 10 of its last 13 ACC games while Miami is 9-15-1 ATS as a double-digit home favorite. The underdog is 6-1 ATS the last seven.

Miami has the better skill players, Virginia the better defense against the run. Jacory Harris is better than either or both of the Cavalier quarterbacks and will be the difference maker tonight. The Hurricanes cover and the ‘under’ cashes and those are my final thoughts.

There’s still time for you to check in on tonight’s ACC showdown. I’ve got Miami winning in a rout but maybe you see it differently. Either way I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say about the Hurricanes and Cavaliers. You’ll find our thread in the college football sub-forum of SBR Players Talk.