KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 ET
SITE: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
SERIES: Georgia Tech leads 10-6 (last meeting, 2010, Miami 35-10)
RECORDS: Georgia Tech 6-1, 3-1 ACC; Miami 3-3, 1-2 ACC
POLLS: Georgia Tech (No. 20 AP, No. 19 USA Today)
KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Georgia Tech: Get the offense back in gear. Look for QB Tevin Washington to target WR Stephen Hill early and often, as he is a mismatch for any corner, and Miami's defense is vulnerable. The Canes rank 58th in pass defense and 94th in rushing defense.
-- For Miami: Don't give up the big play on defense. Tech can lull an opponent to sleep with its punishing ground game but then has the ability to strike quickly with a big play. Tech's last two opponents, Virginia and Maryland, have had success running the football, and Miami looks to take the same approach.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
Georgia Tech still ranks ninth nationally in total offense (516.7) and 10th in scoring (42.9), but they Yellow Jackets have struggled the past two weeks, scoring 21 each time. QB Tevin Washington has hit just 12 of his last 39 throws. Some of the passes were off target, and others were simply dropped. Coaches also want more production from the B-backs this week.
Georgia Tech's secondary is playing better than expected, as the Jackets already have tied last season's interception total with eight. But the run defense has been abysmal, giving up 5.5 yards a carry in ACC play. The expected return of LBs Jeremiah Attaochu and Daniel Drummond should help.
Until the win at North Carolina, Miami had been effective running the football behind the tandem of sophomore RB Lamar Miller and junior RB Mike James. That didn't work because the Tar Heels concentrated on stopping the run with its talent front defensive seven. But that opened the way for QB Jacory Harris, who has been eminently more judicious in his passing, to have a nice day passing. He hasn't thrown an interception in any of the last three games. Senior WR Travis Benjamin is the leading receiver, but sophomore WR Allen Hurns, junior Tommy Streeter, and freshman WR Phillip Dorsett have been effective targets as well.
Coach Al Golden says Miami may not have a lot of stars -- though LB Sean Spence may be an exception -- but still can be an effective defense if players stick to their assignments. The Hurricanes have been susceptible to the power running game and are giving up 187 yards rushing a game, which ranks 11th in the conference. That's hardly a good omen with Georgia Tech and its rushing attack coming to town. The Hurricanes also will be without one of the stalwarts in their defensive front.
Yellow Jackets: Miami has outscored Tech 68-27 over the last two meetings. ... A win at Miami would assure the Jackets of finishing at least .500 in ACC play for a conference-record 17th straight season. ... Opponents facing Tech's triple option are forcing QB Tevin Washington to keep the ball more. He's run for 235 yards over the last two games, while production from the A-backs and B-backs has slipped. ... Tech won its first three games by an average of 37.3 points a game, but the last four have been decided by 6.3 points. Tech won by seven over North Carolina, 10 over North Carolina State, and five over Maryland and lost by three to Virginia. ... CB Rod Sweeting was the ACC's defensive back of the week after returning an INT 32 yards for a TD against Virginia. He has three interceptions and 18 tackles over the last four games. ... PK Justin Moore could lose his job after getting a field goal blocked on a low kick last week. He's 4-of-8 this season, with two attempts blocked. David Scully took a PAT opportunity in the loss to Virginia.
Hurricanes: Miami is playing the first of a three-game homestand, its second such stretch of the season. Games against Virginia (on Oct. 27) and Duke (Nov. 5) follow. Earlier, the Hurricanes went 2-1 at home, beating Ohio State and Bethune-Cookman but losing to Kansas State in between. ... The Hurricanes have won the last two meetings in the series with the Yellow Jackets by comfortable margins (35-10 and 33-17), but Tech had won the previous four meetings. ... Junior PK Jake Wieclaw, who is 7-of-7 on field goals, is getting a look at punting duties this week after sophomore P Dalton Botts struggled against North Carolina. Botts is averaging 39.8 on 20 punts. Matt Bosher handled both duties for Miami the last three years. ... Junior DE Olivier Vernon comes off a six-game suspension for his role in the booster scandal uncovered during the summer. He is listed third on the depth chart behind Marcus Robinson and sophomore Shayon Green. ... DT Micanor Regis was suspended for the Georgia Tech game for his actions in last week's win over North Carolina.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Tevin Washington -- The junior has completed just 12 of 39 throws over the last three games, with two TDs and three INTs. Coaches want to rebuild confidence in the passing game by calling high-percentage short routes early against Miami.
NT Logan Walls -- Tech's problems stopping the run start at the point of attack. Walls (6-2, 299) was manhandled last week and must perform better if the Jackets are to get the Hurricanes off the field. Tech is allowing 5.5 yards per carry in ACC play, worst in the conference.
LB Daniel Drummond -- The 6-3, 248-pound run stopper was held out of last week's game with a knee injury but is said to be a "full go" for Miami. The Jackets desperately need his imposing presence.
RB Lamar Miller -- Miller hasn't missed a game but has been slowed by nagging injuries in recent outings. Still, he has the ability to break off a big play at any moment. He is second in the ACC in rushing (117.7 yards a game) and can catch the ball out of the backfield.
WR Tommy Streeter -- The junior continues to have a breakout season for the Hurricanes. He is second on the team in receptions with 18 and receiving yardage with 332, but he leads in touchdown receptions with five. At 6-4, he can is a favorite target on fade patterns in the end zone.
DE Marcus Robinson -- Robinson is second on the team in tackles-for-loss with 6.5, which leads all linemen, and he leads the entire defense in sacks with 4.0. He also has been credited with a quarterback pressure and has forced two fumbles.