The Virginia football team wraps up the home portion of its schedule Saturday when Miami comes to town. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Scott Stadium.
Before the game, the Cavaliers will honor seniors for Senior Day. They’d like to send those players off with a win as well. The Hoos have just one home win this season and they are trying to snap a four-game losing streak.
Still, senior Jackson Matteo said this week that there is plenty to play for despite the team’s 2-7 record.
“This is a complete and total reboot of the University of Virginia’s football program,” Matteo said. “And that starts with the culture, that starts with building good habits and setting a good foundation for the future of the University of Virginia’s football program. That’s what’s at stake.”
With that in mind, let’s get to the picks.
Virginia can win if … it limits turnovers and points off turnovers. The Hoos have a turnover in every game this season as a 39-game streak continues to grow. Miami has forced 12 turnovers this season and scored 63 points after those turnovers. UVA, meanwhile, has committed 16 turnovers this season and allowed 12 scores (9 touchdowns, 3 field goals) after those miscues. Playing a turnover-free game would be a big boost to the chances of a win.
Virginia can lose if … it can’t keep Miami’s defense in check. A lot of UVA’s issues of late can be traced to the play of the offensive line and quarterback Kurt Benkert’s comfort level in the pocket even when things aren’t breaking down. The bad news? The Hurricanes rank in the top 30 nationally in team sacks and tackles for loss as well as scoring defense.
And the winner is …
Sabre Editor Kris Wright: I want to think there is at least one more win left for this year’s team, but inconsistency continues to be a major issue for the Hoos. I don’t like the matchup this week because Miami can cause trouble defensively, while also reeling off big plays offensively. UVA can hope for some chilly weather sleep-walking from the Hurricanes, but I don’t think that will be enough. MIAMI 38, VIRGINIA 27. Season to date: 5-4.
Sabre Associate Editor Chris Horne: Miami has an explosive offense led by an experienced and capable quarterback. It’ll be a big challenge for the Virginia defense, but I do think the Hoos can keep the Canes in check. What I’m not sure of is how the Virginia offense will play against a stingy Miami defense. Louisville, it seemed, could have been a turning point for Kurt Benkert and company, but inconsistency and bad turnovers resurfaced against Wake Forest. I think Virginia has the talent to beat Miami. I’m just not confident the Hoos can put together four quarters of good, turnover-free football needed to do it. In a low-scoring affair, I see Miami edging the Cavaliers. MIAMI 24, VIRGINIA 14. Season to date: 5-4.
Sabre Analyst Greg Waters: Last week Miami took advantage of a Pitt team reeling from a rash of serious injuries for a 51-28 win, but this appears to be a game of two teams going in the wrong direction in the same cab. The Canes have had their own defensive injury issues leading to an average of 443 yards per game and 27 points over the last five outings. Virginia is giving up a whopping 31.8 points on average and 416.2 yards a game over the same time span. The teams have each gone 1-4 over their last five games. UM’s offensive line has been struggling producing just 2.5 yards per carry during this time and allowing 19 sacks after surrendering two in games 1-4. UVA averages 2.8 yards per carry in its last five contests and has allowed 16 sacks. Before the Pitt game, the Canes averaged 18.7 points per game in their last four games while the Hoos are averaging 19.7 over the last five. What does it mean? VIRGINIA 20, MIAMI 17. Season to date: 4-5.
Sabre Analyst Ahmad Hawkins (Listen to The Ball Hawk Show Podcast here): Miami has a very good quarterback in Brad Kaaya and plenty of playmakers on the outside. Virginia’s defense has improved each week, yet the offense will once again self destruct just when there is hope for a victory. MIAMI 35, VIRGINIA 17. Season to date: 3-6.
Sabre meteorologist BadgerHoo: The chilliest weather of the fall so far descends on Central Virginia. Highs are only in the low 50s and temperatures will drop into the 40s during the second half. Dress in layers! The Hoos are cold and stay cold. Another tough loss. MIAMI 34, VIRGINIA 28. Season to date: 4-5.
What about you? Who wins?