The No. 10 Miami Hurricanes defeated the No. 13 Virginia Tech Hokies 28-10, proving that they belong in the College Football Playoff discussion.
That’s not to say that Mark Richt’s squad was perfect in this contest. It wasn’t. Miami turned the ball over on downs on its first possession, failing to score on four straight plays from the Tech two-yard line. The Hurricanes also threw three interceptions, including a costly pick on the initial drive of the second half that allowed the Hokies to pull within four.
Despite these shortcomings, it’s hard not to be impressed with what we saw from the Hurricanes in this contest. The Miami D played like the championship-caliber units that the U is famous for, limiting Virginia Tech to just 3-of-14 on third down and holding the Hokies to a season-low 299 yards of total offense. It also came up with two fourth down stops in the third quarter, most notably an interception on fourth-and-five that ended any hope of a Hokie comeback.
The Canes’ were also solid on offense. Sure, 429 yards doesn’t sound like a whole lot in an era of high-octane, spread offenses. However, Virginia Tech’s D came into this matchup ranked ninth nationally in total defense, allowing just one opponent (West Virginia) to crack the 400-yard barrier this season. The fact the Miami was able to do that without playing a perfect game speaks volumes about how good this unit could be when it finally puts it all together.
With a victory in this contest, Miami gave the College Football Playoff Selection Committee something to think about. The committee placed the ‘Canes at No. 10 in the initial standings, in large part because they didn’t have a marquee victory (although the victory over Toledo might mean a lot more this week if the Rockets were to enter the rankings). But, after beating Virginia Tech – which beat a West Virginia squad that took down No. 15 Iowa State on Saturday – UM showed the committee that it’s capable of beating anyone in the country.
Even if – and it’s a big if – this win doesn’t move the Hurricanes up in the rankings, it’s important to note that the team still controls its own destiny in the national championship race. After all, Miami plays No. 3 Notre Dame next week, and will more than likely face No. 4 Clemson in the ACC Championship game. With victories in those contests, there’s no way that the Selection Committee could exclude the ‘Canes from the field. All they have to do is win, and they’re in.