Miami has opportunity VT has gotten used to

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The last time I was here, Virginia Tech was here. And the last time Virginia Tech was here, it lost.

(Pure coincidence, promise.)

No doubt the Hokies are going to do everything they can to avoid the same outcome, and their odds got marginally better with the news that left tackle Jason Fox is definitely out. His backup, Reggie Youngblood, is a player coach Randy Shannon once thought would miss the rest of the season with various injuries.

But ... it's senior night. Miami can't afford to lose. And there is an excitement buzzing around this stadium that indicates Miami is finally in a game that means something. Oh, it's a high-stakes game for the Hokies, too, but the ACC title has fit them like an old comfy sweatshirt since they joined the league.

Miami is still shopping for that title.

Here are three things the Canes need to do tonight to get one step closer to Tampa:

Stop the Hokies' running game. If you make Virginia Tech one-dimensional, you win.

Get "Coop and JJ" at least 25 combined carries (and then block for them). During their careers at Miami, when Javarris James and Graig Cooper combine for at least 25 carries in a game, the Canes are 6-2. When they don't, Miami is 2-6. That has only happened once this season -- at Virginia.

Protect the quarterbacks. Robert Marve can't get rattled in this one. Miami can't afford to turn the ball over against this talented, much-improved defense. If they do, they turn over their chances at the title, too.

The scout count tonight is 10, and there are bowl reps here from the Gator Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl and the Champs Sports Bowl.