MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- As Miami rolled up one win after another, it became difficult to find anyone offering much praise outside the program.
"But who have the Hurricanes beaten?" skeptics wondered, pointing to a résumé that lacked a Top 25 win.
"But are they really that good?" critics asked, pointing to close calls against average teams.
The College Football Playoff selection committee telegraphed those questions when it released its first rankings earlier this week, placing unbeaten Miami at No. 10, behind six one-loss teams. That felt a little like a slap to those inside the Miami football facility, who refused to apologize for the way they had gone about winning all their games.
So what if they were close? Miami had won them, and that would have to be enough. But then Saturday night came along, and the Hurricanes showed how good they could be when they put together four dominant quarters.
Miami had the upper hand against No. 13 Virginia Tech from the start, owning the offensive and defensive lines drive after drive. That allowed the Hurricanes to gash the run defense Virginia Tech takes such great pride in, en route to their best performance this season -- a 28-10 win that should have those same critics re-evaluating Miami.
Especially with No. 3 Notre Dame coming to town next Saturday.
Miami had everything going for it on Saturday night, from a raucous home crowd that filled nearly every seat at Hard Rock Stadium, to intensity, aggressiveness and motivation. The Hurricanes even had Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez rooting them on, Rodriguez wearing what appeared to be a homemade turnover chain.
The defense got to wear the real turnover chain, too, with four takeaways on a night when it shut down the Virginia Tech run defense, flustered Josh Jackson and made All-ACC receiver Cam Phillips an afterthought.
Though Malik Rosier threw three interceptions, his play on the ground became an indispensable part of this game. He rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown. Those interceptions nearly cost Miami -- including one on the opening drive of the third quarter that Virginia Tech turned into a touchdown to close the gap to 14-10.
At that point, it appeared the Hokies had the momentum they so desperately needed and would turn this into the close game we all anticipated.
But the game swung on the following Virginia Tech drive. After Rosier threw another interception, Virginia Tech had the ball inside Miami territory. But a botched fourth-down attempt, in which the ball hit Sean Savoy as he ran in motion, gave the ball back to the Hurricanes.
Rosier hit Christopher Herndon IV for a 43-yard touchdown pass on the next drive, and Virginia Tech never got closer.
So now we are left with an entire week to get ready for Miami versus Notre Dame, a throwback matchup between two bitter rivals who suddenly find themselves in playoff contention. Will this one measure up to all those classic games in the late 1980s and early 1990s when this rivalry was at its most heated (and best)?
College GameDay will be in Miami, elevating this game's place during a crucial Week 11. The game will have no bearing on Miami's ACC championship hopes because the Hurricanes could find themselves clinching a spot in their first-ever ACC championship game next Saturday if Virginia loses to Louisville.
Notre Dame will have to wait, though, at least until Sunday. Miami has plenty to savor about its best win of the season.