Miami 27, Virginia Tech 7
Virginia Tech's dream season -- a second consecutive ACC championship, a Bowl Championship Series berth and, yes, even a chance at playing for the national championship -- fell apart against a familiar foe Saturday night. Miami, which had dashed the Hokies' hopes many times when both schools were members of the Big East Conference, crushed their dreams again with a dominating 27-7 victory at sold-out Lane Stadium.
Virginia Tech, which had looked so athletically superior than its first eight opponents, was no match for the Hurricanes' blinding speed. Hokies quarterback Marcus Vick, who entered the game as the country's second-highest-rated passer and a budding star, had a truly forgettable game, lost four fumbles, one of which was recovered in the end zone for a Miami touchdown, and threw two interceptions.
"We didn't play our game tonight," Hokies tight end Jeff King said. "We didn't run it and control the clock and not turn it over; that's been our recipe for success."
Vick's six turnovers and the Hokies' lack of offense were a formula for disaster against the Hurricanes (7-1, 4-1 ACC), who won their seventh game in a row and took control of the ACC's Coastal Division. If the Hurricanes win their last three ACC games -- they'll be heavy favorites at Wake Forest next week and then at home against Georgia Tech and Virginia -- they will play Atlantic Division winner Florida State in the inaugural ACC championship game in Jacksonville, Fla., on Dec. 3, and the Hokies will be left at home.
"Everybody was like, 'Virginia Tech's toughest test this season is going to come at Virginia,' " Miami tackle Eric Winston said. "That's ridiculous. We're not out of this thing. You better strap it up when we're coming to town, whether it's on the field or in the parking lot."
Before their first loss, the Hokies seemed to be making up ground on No. 1 Southern California and No. 2 Texas in the BCS standings. Now, the Hokies will need help to play in one of college football's four premier postseason bowl games, especially if they get left out of the ACC title game. Virginia Tech (8-1, 5-1) will have to win its last two ACC games, against rival Virginia on Nov. 19 and against North Carolina the following week, and, if the Hurricanes don't lose again, hope they're one of the best one-loss teams left in Division I-A to claim one of two BCS at-large berths.
"This isn't the season," King said. "The season is not made to be one game, and we're not going to make it one game. We've got a lot left to play for. There aren't going to be too many one-loss teams left at the end of the season, and the past has told us one-loss teams can get back into the mix."
Virginia Tech anticipated a defensive struggle against the Hurricanes, who are ranked No. 1 in the country in defense, but it could have never expected its offense to be so ineffective. Vick completed only 8 of 22 passes for 90 yards and was sacked four times. Running backs Mike Imoh (Robinson High) and Cedric Humes combined for 35 yards on 13 carries.
"We could have gone out there and stunk the joint up and still would have won 10-0," Miami offensive line coach Art Kehoe said. "That's how overwhelming our defense was. Do you think Marcus Vick is going to be sore tomorrow? Why did people think we were going to come up here and get our [rears] kicked? Don't tell us we're going to get our butts whipped. It ain't happening."
With Miami leading 13-0 early in the third quarter, Virginia Tech seemed to be making its move to get back in the game. The Hokies crossed midfield after Vick completed two passes. But on third and seven at the Miami 42, Vick fumbled the snap, and tackle Orien Harris recovered. Nine plays later, flanker Darnell Jenkins made a diving catch in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown from Kyle Wright. Jon Peattie's extra point kick made it 20-0 with 3 minutes 22 seconds to play in the third.
Virginia Tech returned the ensuing kickoff to its 11, and Vick was sacked for a four-yard loss on first down. Imoh was stuffed for a two-yard loss on second down, so the Hokies faced third and 16 from the 5. Vick dropped back to pass and was pressured by defensive end Javon Nanton. As Vick was going down, he tried to extend the football past the goal line to avoid a safety, but Nanton swatted it away and tackle Kareem Brown recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Peattie's kick made it 27-0 with 1:43 left in the third.
"A couple of the fumbles, it was just me being reckless," Vick said. "It's definitely something I've got to work on."
Winston, who didn't play when the Hokies beat the Hurricanes, 16-10, in the Orange Bowl last season, said Miami's defense caused most of Virginia Tech's problems.
"Those guys are unbelievable," Winston said of Miami's defense. "Marcus Vick was 3 for 11 with two interceptions at one point and everybody had anointed him the second coming. I felt like as long as we could come out and put a couple of scores on them early, they'd start pointing fingers. There was definitely some jawing going on over there."