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November 9, 2013

Staff Picks: Hokies at Canes

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The dreaded noon ET kickoff has been a tricky one for Virginia Tech. But can the Hokies rebound from a loss to Duke and get back on track at Boston College?

We take our shots at calling what will happen at today's noon ET kickoff.

Jason Stamm, publisher

At this point, it's hard to believe that just two weeks ago, Virginia Tech was No. 14 in the BCS rankings and poised for a strong finish, if not a spot in the ACC championship game. Of course, that was coming off three straight games in which the Hokies had zero turnovers.

Over the past two games (losses to Duke and Boston College), that's been exactly what's plaguing Virginia Tech. Senior quarterback Logan Thomas has officially been credited with all eight turnovers. But at Boston College, at least two of them arguably weren't all his fault.

It's pretty simple though, when Thomas doesn't turn the ball over, the Hokies usually win. When he does, well, the last two games are the result.

The run game also has been abysmal and that certainly hasn't helped. When or if that gets going in any way is anyone's guess. Aside from Thomas running for over 100 yards by running over 20 times, there's been no signs of any positive improvement.

It does help that Miami will be without its leading rusher, Duke Johnson, out the rest of the season with a broken ankle suffered against Florida State. But even during the summer, aside from Alabama, this was the one game I thought would give the Hokies plenty of trouble.

Johnson being out will keep the Hurricanes from really rolling up the score, but it's probably a good bet that while he might not have four turnovers again, we'll see Virginia Tech have at least one or two. And I think those will be the difference as the offense will again show some life, but the defense will be backed up against at least one short field

PREDICTION: Miami 27-17

Doug Bowman, senior writer

The key to this game is obvious - turnovers. Whichever quarterback takes care of the ball better will win this game.

Virginia Tech will be fighting an uphill battle coming off two losses and playing on the road in a hostile environment (the 7:00 p.m. kick is crucial for Miami), so it's all on Thomas to play a mistake free football game.

After eight turnovers in two weeks, it seems like Thomas is due for a week with no turnovers. But with no running game and playing on the road, I don't think that's likely.

With that in mind, I expect a close first half followed by a second half that becomes defined by a VT turnover that completely swings the football game. After that, it could be all 'Canes.

PREDICTION: Miami 33-17

Mike Stancik, staff writer

It's time to double down. After a of couple weeks of having to hear nonstop criticism, Thomas looks to come into Miami and dismantle the Hurricanes defense. Miami doesn't exactly have a great defense to write home about, and that was fairly evident in last week's drubbing at Florida State.

However, unless otherwise proven, it will be hard for the Hokies to put up a ton of points as Thomas is seemingly headed to be the leading rusher once again in 2013. But I believe he's ready for this big stage (you've probably heard that before), and wide receiver Joshua Stanford continues to emerge as one of the top receivers going forward. The Miami defense is fantastic in the red zone (allowed 13 touchdowns in 26 attempts), so if Virginia Tech is to win this game senior kicker Cody Journell is going to have to have a solid day.

Last week's 192 rushing yards allowed is certainly a cause for concern in the Hokie defense, but if it wasn't for a 62-yard run late, it would be a completely different story. I don't see the Hurricanes having as much success on the ground, and with a full stable of healthy DB's, quarterback Stephen Morris will likely get seduced into throwing a couple of interceptions (Second most in ACC behind Thomas).

It's pretty simple: if the Hokies win the turnover battle, they will likely win. Miami just didn't look all too good in the two victories before the loss to FSU, and no matter how good the backup is, Duke Johnson will be missed. Virginia Tech finds a way to come out on top to avoid a three-game losing streak thanks to an inspired start, and stays in the ACC Coastal hunt.

PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 23-17


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