Florida Football Friday: Miami Hosts Virginia Tech in Battle for Bowl Eligibility

by Mike Ferguson

Photo courtesy of Miami athletics

Two football programs will meet in South Florida on Saturday after each making notable firings.

Virginia Tech parted ways with head coach Justin Fuente following a victory over Duke. After losing to rival Florida State for the first time since 2016, Miami fired athletics director Blake James.

The two teams will meet at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday night in a contest where someone will become bowl eligible. Both teams come in with records of 5-5 and have been eliminated from the ACC Coastal race.

The Hurricanes have found some rhythm offensive recently with the insertion of quarterback Tyler Van Dyke into the starting lineup. The freshman from Connecticut has thrown for at least 300 yards in four straight games. Miami has averaged better than 34 points per game over the last five.

Running back Jaylan Knighton, wide receiver Charleston Rambo and tight end Will Mallory are the skill players to watch for Miami. The problem recently for the Hurricanes however, has been on the other side of the ball.

The loss of safety Bubba Bolden was a killer for Miami, but the defensive line is solid with names like Nesta Jade Silvera and Zach McCloud. Still, the Hurricanes have allowed at least 30 points in six straight games and in their last seven against FBS competition.

Virginia Tech has really struggled offensively. The Hokies rank just 13th in the ACC in total and scoring offense.

Quarterback Braxton Burmeister has been banged up this season, but played well in last week’s win over the Blue Devils. Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson are a talented duo out wide.

Defensively, Virginia Tech has one of the better units in the ACC. Linebacker Dax Hollifield might be the best player for the Hokies while Jermaine Waller is tied for the ACC lead in interceptions. In wins this season, the Hokies allow less than 14 points per game.

The road team has actually won the last three meetings in the series. Virginia Tech led 24-13 last season, but the Hurricanes rallied for a 25-24 victory. Saturday’s contest begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and airs on ACC Network.

Prediction: Miami 31, Virginia Tech 22

Other Games Across the State

College Football

Florida Atlantic (5-5) at Western Kentucky (6-4)
Saturday, Nov. 20 at 12 p.m. ET (Stadium)

After back-to-back losses, Florida Atlantic will try to upset Western Kentucky to become bowl eligible. Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe comes in as the nation’s leading passer. Western Kentucky is the alma mater of FAU head coach Willie Taggart and the school that gave him his first head coaching job.
Prediction: Western Kentucky 38, Florida Atlantic 27

Florida State (4-6) at Boston College (5-5)
Saturday, Nov. 20 at 12 p.m. ET (ACC Network)

Florida State is coming off its first win over rival Miami in five years and will need to win its final two games to become bowl eligible. Since quarterback Phil Jurkovec has returned to the lineup, Boston College has won consecutive ACC games following a 0-4 start to conference play. The road team is 8-7 since the Eagles joined the ACC in 2005.
Prediction: Florida State 30, Boston College 27

South Florida (2-8) at Tulane (1-9)
Saturday, Nov. 20 at 12 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

South Florida’s trip to New Orleans will hardly be a matchup of juggernauts, but the Bulls have been more competitive in recent weeks. Tulane is the last remaining American Athletic Conference team without a conference win. USF aims for its first road win in more than two years.
Prediction: South Florida 33, Tulane 31

Florida (5-5) at Missouri (5-5)
Saturday, Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

Despite allowing 42 points in the first half to an FCS team, Florida got back on track to even its record. Quarterback Emory Jones had a record-setting day in a 70-52 win over Samford and will try to get the Gators bowl eligible. Missouri will try to do likewise. The teams have split the previous 10 meetings.
Prediction: Florida 39, Missouri 28

Connecticut (1-9) at UCF (6-4)
Saturday, Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

With a home win on Saturday, UCF can clinch its fifth straight winning season. Connecticut has not defeated an FBS team this season.
Prediction: UCF 49, Connecticut 17

North Texas (4-6) at Florida International (1-9)
Saturday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN3)

After coming out with harsh words for the administration, Florida International head coach Butch Jones will coach his final home game as the Golden Panthers celebrate Senior Day. FIU has yet to beat an FBS opponent this season. After dropping the previous six contests, North Texas has won three straight games.
Prediction: North Texas 38, Florida International 23

NFL

Miami Dolphins (3-7) at New York Jets (2-7)
Sunday, Nov. 21 at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

Don’t look now, but the Miami Dolphins have won consecutive games. Miami has allowed just one touchdown over the last two weeks. The Dolphins will look for their third straight win over the New York Jets, who will start Joe Flacco at quarterback.
Prediction: Miami 27, N.Y. Jets 17

San Francisco 49ers (4-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7)
Sunday, Nov. 21 at 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

The San Francisco 49ers inched closer to .500 on Monday night with an improbable blowout of the Los Angeles Rams. They’ll face an improving Jacksonville Jaguars’ team on Sunday. Jacksonville has not defeated the 49ers since 2005.
Prediction: San Francisco 29, Jacksonville 24

New York Giants (3-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)
Monday, Nov. 22 at 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to end a 2-game skid on Monday Night Football as they host the New York Giants. The teams played a thriller last season on a Monday night with a late game-tying 2-point conversion being negated by penalty. Tampa Bay is 4-0 at home this season.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 34, N.Y. Giants 17

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

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