Miami Hurricanes make statement in 28-10 win over Virginia Tech
Miami Gardens (Sun Sentinel) —
For weeks, the Miami Hurricanes have faced a consistent barrage of criticism.
Though unbeaten, some in college football said their wins had come against lackluster opponents. Though Miami had won four consecutive nail-biters, analysts said the margins of victory in games against Florida State, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and North Carolina weren’t nearly significant enough for a top-tier team.
And last week, the Hurricanes dropped a spot in the AP Top 25 Poll and saw a half-dozen one-loss teams earn higher rankings in the first College Football Playoff Rankings of the season.
The operating thought for many in college football was that when faced with a stalwart opponent like Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes would wither.
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Instead, No. 10 Miami was effective offensively from the start, dominant on defense and with a 28-10 win over the 13th-ranked Hokies, now controls its own fate in the race for the Coastal Division title and a berth in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game.
With Saturday’s win - one that came in front of a frenzied 63,932 fans at Hard Rock Stadium - the Hurricanes extended their win streak to 13 games dating back to last season.
They also avenged one of their biggest losses of a season ago, when they were thoroughly dominated by Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
On this night, it was the Hurricanes (8-0, 6-0) that would dominate, sending them now into a huge game with old rival No. 3 Notre Dame that could have significant playoff implications.
Hurricanes coach Mark Richt opened up the Miami playbook on Miami’s first drive with receiver Braxton Berrios throwing a pass to quarterback Malik Rosier, freshman DeeJay Dallas getting a handful of carries and then Dallas even throwing another pass to Rosier.
But for all the excitement and trickery, Miami’s first drive ended as so many did last week in Chapel Hill - with no points to show for it.
The Hurricanes got inside the Virginia Tech 2-yard line, but came up empty after they opted to go for it on fourth down. Early in the second half, though, things shifted for the Hurricanes.
Midway through the quarter, Miami built a 14-0 lead on the strength of an 8-yard scoring pass from Rosier to Berrios and a 64-yard run from Travis Homer.
Both were significant in their own ways, the drive that culminated in the Berrios touchdown marking a break from Miami’s typical quick-strike offense. On that drive, Miami ran nine plays, went 87 yards and took 4:42 off the clock - their longest drive since a 5-minute scoring drive against Syracuse two weeks ago.
And on one play, Homer helped jump-start a running game that struggled mightily last week in North Carolina where it managed just 59 yards, a season low.
Virginia Tech, its eyes also set on the Coastal Division championship, wouldn’t go away, though. The Hokies (7-2, 3-2), winners of the division last season, managed a 50-yard field goal just before halftime and then early in the third capitalized on a Rosier interception deep in Miami territory to pull within 14-10 after a 1-yard sneak by quarterback Josh Jackson.
But Rosier - who entered the game with four interceptions on the season and struggled at times struggled, throwing three against the Hokies - bounced back.
Praised often by teammates and coaches for his ability to stay even-keeled when challenged, two possessions later, Rosier rebounded by completing a 43-yard scoring pass to tight end Chris Herndon, who capitalized on a big block from receiver Ahmmon Richards to score.
That touchdown put the Hurricanes up 21-10 heading into the fourth quarter and there, Miami moved quickly to try and put the game out of Virginia Tech’s reach. And it was Rosier who tried to do it, scrambling for a 13-yard touchdown run that put Miami up by 18 with 14:34 left.
The quarterback finished 10 of 21 on the night with 193 yards, while rushing for an additional 84 yards. Homer, meanwhile, finished with 84 yards.
After that, Miami’s defense kept the Hokies from mounting any kind of serious threat and the Hurricanes closed out the win.
In all, Miami totaled four turnovers, including one late by Sheldrick Redwine on Virginia Tech’s final possession.