Well the guys in Vegas got it right. Virginia ( 4-6, 2-4 ACC) was a one-point favorite going into Saturday’s game against Miami (5-5, 4-3 ACC), and indeed they were a one-point victor over the ‘Canes.
The Hoos’ were coming off of a huge win against North Carolina State and carried that momentum with them against Miami. The ‘Canes entered Charlottesville as the ACC Coastal leaders and following their loss on Saturday, the Coastal is once again up in the air.
With just six seconds left remaining in the game, Virginia QB Michael Rocco connected on a ten-yard touchdown pass to Jake McGee, cementing the Hoos’ come-from-behind win and halting Miami’s quest for a bowl appearance.
Miami was without several key starters including LB Denzel Perryman (ankle), LB Eddie Johnson (suspended), WR Rashawn Scott (suspended) and S Deon Bush (neck). The ‘Canes defense proved vulnerable and Rocco lit up the young Miami defenders for 300 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. In a game that virtually went back-and-forth with each possession, Miami now heads back to Coral Gables the one-time leaders of the Coastal division, to wondering if they will become bowl eligible at all.
‘Canes RB Duke Johnson had a field day against the Virginia defense running for 150 yards, including a 52-yard burst that set up Miami with a first and goal. Johnson totaled 216 return yards and dazzled on a 95-yard kickoff return in the first-half. There is no doubt that Johnson should again be named the ACC Rookie of the Week and he continues to make a strong case for NCAA Freshman of the Year.
The Miami defense needed one crucial stop to walk out of Charlottesville with the victory. With just under 4 minutes left in the game, Virginia’s defense forced Miami to punt and regained the ball deep in their own territory. With some help from the ACC officiating crew, the Hoos’ managed to stampede into Miami territory and with six seconds left the Hoos’ would regain the lead and eventually the win.
In the absence of WR Rashawn Scott, sophomore Phillip Dorsett appeared revived hauling in six receptions for 103 yards and one touchdown. WR Allen Hurns proved clutch and accounted for 37 receiving yards and two touchdowns, one of which was thrown by RB Duke Johnson on a trick play.
Miami amassed 420 total yards of which 233 came by way of the ground. The ‘Canes defense allowed 482 total yards, 388 through the air.
Virginia experimented with rotating quarterbacks and sophomore Phillip Sims contributed 88 yards through the air. RB Dominique Terrell torched the Miami defense for 127 receiving yards and WR Darius Jennings added 57 yards and two touchdowns.
Miami will face USF on Nov. 17 at Sun Life Stadium which leads me to my next question: Should Miami find themselves bowl eligible, do they decline the invitation even if it means not playing in the ACCCG? If the ‘Canes manage to beat Duke in their final game of the season, they will earn a trip to the ACC Championship game. At this point in the season, it seems like it may be in Miami’s best interest to forgo any bowl appearance, ACCCG included. It is better to prepare for what looms in the future, i.e. sanctions. With the talent that Miami has on their roster, they should be able to find themselves as serious contenders among the ACC Coastal Division come next season.