A rivalry that in recent years switched from the Big East to the ACC takes center stage on Thursday night, as Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2 ACC Coastal) visits Miami (6-3, 3-2) at 7:30 PM on ESPN. The winner gets a leg up in the unpredictable Coastal Division race, while the loser would be in serious trouble. Although Miami has a 16-9 advantage in the series, the Hokies have the upper hand of late winning nine of the last thirteen meetings. A star was born last Thursday night for Virginia Tech, with redshirt freshman Darren Lewis rushing for 253 yards in their win over Maryland. Sean Glennon was effiecient in his first game back from an ankle injury suffered against Florida State and he'll have to do the same tonight. It's still unsure whether or not Tyrod Taylor will see any action (ankle).
Miami has gone back and forth between Robert Marve and Jacory Harris at quarterback, and predictably they haven't been the most consistent offensive unit in the conference. But there are plenty of weapons at the fingertips of offensive coordinator Patrick Nix, who will have to contend with a defense that last week held Maryland to -12 yards rushing (Da'Rel Scott, who leads the ACC in rushing, mustered eleven yards). The key for the Hurricanes is not shooting themselves in the foot with costly penalties and turnovers. if they can stay out of their own way then Miami has a shot. But since Virginia Tech joined the ACC, they're 14-1 in November. Defense, special teams and the work of Frank Beamer would be three good reasons why, and look for those to push the Hokies to 15-1 in November.
Buffalo @ Akron 7 PM EST on ESPNU
The Bulls (5-4, 3-2 MAC East) and Zips (5-4, 3-2) are tied atop the MAC East standings, and it's quite fitting given how close they are in many of the major statistical categories. Both are near the top of the conference in turnover margin and in the middle of the pack in regards to offensive and defensive categories. However, while Buffalo is third in the conference in third-down conversions (48.9%) Akron is only tenth (39.1%). Combining these numbers with the fact that Buffalo gives up the third-fewest first downs in the conference, what the Zips do offensively on the first two downs could tell the story of this one. Third and short situations and J.D. Brookhart's team has a very good chance to take control of the division race. Also, keep and eye on backs James Starks (UB) and Dennis Kennedy (Akron), two of the top four running backs in the MAC. Akron wins by a field goal.
Wyoming @ UNLV 9 PM EST on CBS College Sports
What a difference a week makes, huh? Last week the Thursday night game in the Mountain West had serious national implications in regards to the BCS. This one...could have a national impact as well, but only in regards to job security. Joe Glenn's Cowboys (4-6, 1-5) are coming off of a 13-7 win at Tennessee, but Tennessee isn't Tennessee this year if you know what I mean. UNLV (4-6, 1-5) had the misfortune of losing some close games before getting pasted by TCU, but Mike Sanford's Rebels are coming off of a 27-20 win over New Mexico. Mike Clausen gets the start once again for UNLV, who will be looking to end a four-game losing streak in the series. Look for the Rebels to get it done and keep their slim bowl hopes alive (the Pac-10 probably won't fill their slots, so the winner could have a shot at a bid).
Friday: #22 Cincinnati @ Louisville 8 PM on ESPN2
How much value does a keg of nails have? If you're a fan of either of these teams, the "Keg of Nails" has some serious value that can't be measured in dollars and cents. Louisville is the current holder of the rivalry trophy, but the Cardinals are reeling following a 41-7 pasting at the hands of Pittsburgh. Brian Kelly's Bearcats, on the other hand, will arrive in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium just six days after beating West Virginia in overtime. Louisville has won nine of the last ten meetings in the series, but that streak ends thanks to a stout defense led by DT Terrill Byrd and DE Connor Barwin (Big East leader in sacks), combined with a passing attack that boasts one of the best receiving corps (Dominick Goodman, Mardy Gilyard and Marcus Barnett) in the conference.