Virginia at Miami
When: 8 p.m. Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
TV: ESPN. Radio: WSPZ (570 AM).
Records: Cavaliers 4-3, 1-2 ACC; Hurricanes 4-3, 2-2.
Miller time?: The Cavaliers’ defense has taken several strides forward this season, particularly against the run. But that progress will be put to the test Thursday when Virginia is tasked with containing Miami tailback Lamar Miller, who is the ACC’s second-leading rusher (114.1 yards per game). On Oct. 8, Miller averaged 9.2 yards per carry while gaining 166 rushing yards and a touchdown against Virginia Tech, which owns the No. 7 run defense (84.6 yards per game allowed) in the nation. Virginia Coach Mike London this week lauded the play thus far of the Cavaliers’ linebacking corps, and players such as Steve Greer — who leads the team with 65 tackles — and LaRoy Reynolds (49 tackles) will need to have big nights Thursday.
Spence roaring back: Despite being suspended for the first game of the season because of violations of the NCAA’s amateurism rules, Miami linebacker Sean Spence is tied for fourth in the ACC in tackles (65) and ranks No. 2 in tackles for a loss (91 / 2). “Sean Spence right now is playing lights out,” Miami Coach Al Golden said this week. “There’s good years, there’s great years and then there’s special years. Right now he’s having a special year.” Spence was one of 12 Miami players who served suspensions of varying lengths this season as the result of an NCAA investigation into the alleged improprieties committed by former booster Nevin Shapiro. All of those players are now eligible to play.
Prime time: This game will mark Virginia’s first appearance on Thursday night since 2006. Miami has won two of its past three games against the Cavaliers, though Virginia defeated the Hurricanes, 24-19, last season in Charlottesville when Miami was ranked No. 22 in the nation.