CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - After an emotional week that culminated with a come-from-behind victory over arch rival Florida State, No. 15 Miami gets back into action Saturday on the road at Virginia. The Cavaliers are rested and well prepared, coming off a bye, while the Hurricanes need to come down off their high to focus on a Virginia team that gave the Canes all they could handle a year ago, nearly pulling off the upset before Miami stormed back -- just as it did against Florida State.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Miami -6.5.
The Hurricanes showed grit and determination last week but perhaps even more important to Miami and head coach Mark Richt was the continued maturity of redshirt freshman quarterback N'Kosi Perry, who shook off a lackluster first half, showing the confidence to come back with three touchdowns in the final two quarters to help the Canes' 21-point comeback. Perry passed his first test but now he faces another heading on the road for a big ACC Coastal Division tussle. The Cavaliers had an extra week to think about their disappointing performance their last time out, a 34-21 loss to North Carolina State, and they are anxious to turn things around at home, where they have beaten Miami three times in the last four meetings. "Our players know they're capable of beating top teams, they just have to finish," Cavaliers third-year coach Bronco Mendenhall told reporters. "That's the task, to play well through the majority of the game and add the other component to close it out."
ABOUT MIAMI (5-1, 2-0 ACC)
Perry struggled under pressure from the Florida State defense and made some poor choices at times -- he completed just 13 of 32 passes for 204 yards and a career-high four touchdowns -- but he came up big when it counted with the three TD strikes in the second half. Defense continues be the driving force behind Miami's success, but the unit did have some issues slowing the Seminoles before roaring back in the third quarter with back-to-back takeaways to fuel the comeback and set the tone for the rousing victory. Spearheading the charge for the Hurricanes is a defensive front, led by Gerald Willis, that is quick getting to the backfield and Miami wound up with six sacks and 12 tackles for loss against Florida State while holding the Seminoles to 45 yards of offense in the second half.
ABOUT VIRGINIA (3-2, 1-1)
Quarterback Bryce Perkins (11 touchdowns, four interceptions) is a dual threat but he ran for just 24 yards on 14 attempts against N.C. State and his running skills may be needed as he figures to be under pressure unless his front line can do a better job with pass protection (12 sacks allowed). Perkins will look to get the ball into the hands of senior Olamide Zaccheaus, who has 501 yards receiving this season and is the only active player in the country with at least 2,000 career receiving yards (2,196) and 450 career rushing yards (490). The Cavaliers' defense proved vulnerable against N.C. State and it almost certainly will try to pressure Perry into ill-advised throws like Florida State did last week.
1. The Hurricanes lead this series 9-6, with Miami winning three straight and four of the last five.
2. Virginia has rushed for 959 yards, only the third time since 2000 that the Cavaliers have rushed for at least 900 yards in five games.
3. Miami announced following the win over Florida State that star WR Ahmmon Richards, who had been out with a knee injury, would not play again due to a career-ending neck injury.
PREDICTION: Miami 34, Virginia 20
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