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Virginia

vs.

Miami

College Football

Free Pick

11/17/17

After two dominant wins, Miami has become the talk of the college football world and is suddenly in a good spot to make the College Football Playoff. While that may require a win over Clemson, the Hurricanes are still playing like one of the top teams in the nation and should make the rest of the regular season unscathed. They were -19 point favorites against Virginia as early as Sunday night at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

After scraping through its first seven wins, Miami has made a big statement by dominating both Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in its last two. The Hurricanes get brought back down to a normal level in this one and the question will be if they can bring the same kind of energy against Virginia, a game that clearly doesn’t mean as much. Just a few weeks ago, Miami barely beat North Carolina.

Virginia started the season on a good note, but it’s been rough as the ACC schedule has moved along. The Cavaliers have lost three of their last four with all of those losses coming by at least 17 points. The issue is that two of those teams don’t have winning records.

Miami gives up 356 yards per game, but just 16.6 points and that defense will be under the spotlight for this one. No one expected them to give up just 18 points total to VT and Notre Dame and if they can put that same kind of effort in this one, it should be a runaway. But, will they?

Virginia doesn’t bring much excitement to the offensive side and if recent history plays out, it may have trouble reaching double digits. The Cavaliers have struggled to score against any decent defense this season and that should be an issue here. As a team, the Cavs average just 3.5 yards per carry with Jordan Ellis leading the way, although he hasn’t topped 60 yards in any of the last four games. A lot has been asked of quarterback Kurt Benkert, and he’s been good, but still hasn't completed more than 53 percent of his passes in the last four. It’s likely Benkert will throw plenty in this game and it’ll be hard to bet on him to put points on the board at a consistent rate.

The other side of the field is the same deal. If Miami’s offense continues what it did to Notre Dame last week, it should have no problems. But it’s still worrisome that the ‘Canes failed to score 30 points in their previous five ACC games. The good thing is that Virginia has given up at least 31 points in their last four conference games and there’s little reason to trust them.

Miami will continue to roll with running back Travis Homer, who is at 6.7 yards per carry as he replaces Mark Walton. The problem is that Virginia allows almost 180 rushing yards per game, which is about the same rate they allow in the passing game. All signs point to Homer having another big game and if not, quarterback Malik Rosier has done just fine when pressed into duty. The first-year starter was huge in the win over the Fighting Irish, even though his numbers don’t show it.

Miami won this game 34-14 last year and that came on the road. Even with a new quarterback, Miami is in a good spot to cover again, as long as it doesn’t let up.

The Cavaliers are 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, but 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games. The Hurricanes are 6-2 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and have covered in their last eight November games. Virginia is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings between these schools.

Our Pick - Miami -19

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