MIAMI HURRICANES AT VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (-6, O/U 51), Thurs., 7 p.m. ET
On paper this is an even matchup. The Hurricanes average 423 yards to the Hokies' 421 and on defense, Virginia Tech gives up 292 yards per game to Miami's 314.
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Both teams are coming off hugely disappointing losses that sent them tumbling out of the Top 25.
Miami (4-2, 1-2 ACC) is tryng to jumpstart an offense that's mustered three touchdowns the past two weeks. Brad Kaaya was erratic in those losses to FSU and UNC but insists his shoulder is not bothering him.
Mark Richt has lost three straight games only once in his 15-year tenure as a head coach. And the 'Canes have won two straight in the series, including 30-6 in Blacksburg, Va., in 2014.
Virginia Tech QB Jerod Evans is a dual threat who's extremely difficult to defend. He's accounted for 19 TDs against two INTs while completing 63 percent of his throws. Isaiah Ford, a 6-2 junior, leads a dangerous receiving corps with 32 catches for 459 yards and five TDs.
The Under is 10-3 in the past 13 meetings and 19-7 in Virginia Tech's last 26 Thursday spotlight games.
SPORTS CHEETAH'S TAKE
Most people won't be surprised that North Carolina beat Miami in Week 7, but I can't imagine many people saw the Syracuse home win over the Hokies coming.
Virginia Tech even took money late in the week, driving the number as high as -23 before kickoff. I understand the Hokies were in a flat spot off the big win at UNC and had this Miami game on deck on a short week, but only managing to score 17 points against an Orange defense that ranks 125th is very puzzling. That 125th ranking actually is an improvement thanks to this Va Tech game.
I expect the Hokies to respond well at home in a crucial game for their standing in the ACC Coastal, but it certainly isn't anything I can bet at this number. Miami's defense is extremely underrated at this point and actually ranks sixth nationally behind only Michigan, Florida, Ohio State, Alabama and LSU.
That's pretty good company. It sure could have just been a flukey Saturday, but if the Hokies weren't able to move the ball effectively against that 'Cuse defense, I'm not sure why we should expect them to be able to do it against Miami five days later.
The Hokies' rank eighth nationally in total defense, just behind Miami (and Clemson), so if I had one look in this game it would be to the Under. My numbers make the game 49, but I'll ultimately need a bit more of a rise from the current total of 51 before I pull the trigger.
This game opened as low as Virginia Tech -4. Professional bettors pounced on the Hokies, sending this line shooting toward a touchdown.
"We've definitely got sharps on the home side," said Scott Cooley, odds consultant for BookMaker.eu.
But according to SportsInsights, Miami is drawing nearly 60 percent of the bets. Those are mostly small plays from recreational bettors.
The total is holding steady at 51.
The 'Canes lost their second straight home game, 20-13 to North Carolina, as the offense struggled again. Closing as a 6-point favorite, Miami fell to 4-2 ATS but remains 2-0 ATS on the road.
Despite closing as a 23-point fave, Virginia Tech shockingly allowed 561 total yards at Syracuse and lost 31-17. The Hokies fell to 3-3 ATS, but are 3-1 ATS at home.
SportsLine analysts Robby Kalland and Emory Hunt have released plays on this game. Get all expert picks here.