Although the Miami Hurricanes and Virginia Tech Hokies both have good defensive statistics, it does not mean that they cannot go ‘over’ on ESPN Thursday night.
Expect a surprisingly higher scoring game Thursday night than some may think based on the defensive stats of these teams alone when the Miami Hurricanes (4-3, 3-4 ATS) pay a visit to the Virginia Tech Hokies (4-3, 3-4 ATS) at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, VA at 8:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 47 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘over’ set at -106.
Both teams in Top 22 in Total Defense
A quick look at where these teams rank nationally in total defense would certainly make the ‘over’ a counterintuitive college football pick here, as Virginia Tech is ranked 20th allowing only 326.0 total yards per contest while Miami is ranked 22nd yielding only 327.4 yards per tilt. Miami is also eighth in the land in yards per pass attempt allowed at just 5.6, and that is while still allowing only 3.6 yards per rush overall.
Also, anyone that watched Virginia Tech’s ugly 21-16 loss at Pittsburgh last Thursday night where they only mustered 291 total yards with a mere 26 of them coming on the ground on 22 carries would be understandably apprehensive playing the ‘over’ at this number in this spot. Miami on the other hand has had extra preparation time for this contest as the Hurricanes have been off since a high scoring 55-34 home win over the Cincinnati Bearcats on October 11th.
Miami Defense Not as Good on Road
Now, oftentimes when two good defensive teams meet, the games are high scoring anyway because each defense forces turnovers, either leading to touchdowns directly via returns of setting their offenses up in good field position. And while there is certainly some of that going on here, there are also other factors suggesting what some would feel is a surprising ‘over’.
For starters, perhaps the most glaring thing that jumps out when looking at the defensive stats of these teams is the extreme home vs. away splits for Miami. We already presented the fine overall Hurricane defensive numbers earlier, but while the Canes have been virtually impenetrable at home, one key reason they are winless on the road (0-3) is because of the severe slippage of the defense away from South Beach.
You see, Miami allows about 60 total yards per game more on the road than its overall average at a fairly generous 387.7 yards per contest, and that includes an ungodly 263.7 rushing yards per road affair on 4.9 yards per rush, with even the yards per pass attempt rising all the way to 7.8!
Williams Expected Back for Hokies
As for the Hokies, the reason that they were abysmal running the football last week was because their top three running backs were all out with injuries. Thankfully from a Hokies’ perspective though, their leading rusher Marshawn Williams is expected back tonight. Prior to last week’s debacle, the Hokies had put up 35 and 34 points respectively in their previous two games with Williams as the lead back, so his expected return is a major boost.
That becomes especially true if the Miami rushing defense plays closer to its road numbers so far and not its overall numbers.
Now the Tech defense has been good against the run allowing 123.3 rushing yards per game on 3.7 yards per carry, but they have probably not had to deal with a running back as talented as Miami’s Duke Johnson, who has rushed for 787 yards and six touchdowns already while averaging an unbelievable 7.2 yards per carry, and is probably the biggest offensive threat in this game for either team.
And incredibly, he is not the only Miami running back averaging over seven yards as Joseph Yearby is averaging 7.4 yards per rush on his 43 carries! If the Hurricanes can run against the normally good Va. Tech defense with those two backs, it could also free up quarterback Brad Kaaya to duplicate his performance vs. Cincinnati where he completed 17-of-24 passes for 286 yards (a whopping 11.9 YPA) and three touchdowns without an interception.
Brewer Can Lead to Points – For One Team or the Other!
Speaking of quarterbacks, when Virginia Tech’s Michael Brewer puts the ball in the air, it could very well lead to points, albeit for either team! Brewer has completed 61.1 percent of his passes while passing for a good 1674 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, but he also has 11 interceptions, so his throws can be an adventure vs. this Miami pass defense.
Add this all up and we just might be in the minority in expecting an ‘over’ when the Miami Hurricanes visit Virginia Tech in Blacksburg Thursday.
College Football Pick: Miami-FL, Virginia Tech ‘over’ 47 (-106)