MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Alex Rodriguez flashed his turnover chain, Jennifer Lopez waved a pompom while dancing in her seat most of the night and 63,000 of their closest friends roared from start to finish.
No. 9 Miami faced its biggest test of the season and made it look easy.
Malik Rosier threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, Travis Homer had a 64-yard touchdown run and Miami moved to the brink of clinching what would be its first spot in an Atlantic Coast Conference championship game by topping No. 13 Virginia Tech 28-10 on Saturday night and extending the nation’s longest current winning streak to 13 games.
“We just came out and took what’s ours today,” said Rosier, who threw touchdown passes to Braxton Berrios and Christopher Herndon IV.
So one showdown is down, and another awaits Miami (8-0, 6-0 ACC, No. 10 CFP). No. 5 Notre Dame (8-1, No. 3 CFP) — the last team to beat the Hurricanes — visits next Saturday night, a game that will have national-title implications.
“It’s a tribute to our players, coaches, managers, trainers, our fan base, our students, band, everything, administration,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. “It’s great. It takes a lot of work to get to a point that you can get into a game like this and then to win it, it was spectacular. At least that’s how it feels. I don’t know if it was a spectacular win, but certainly feels that way right now.”
Rosier survived a three-interception night, helped out by Miami’s turnover chain — the gaudy bauble that gets awarded amid much fanfare on the sideline when the Hurricanes get a takeaway.
Virginia Tech (7-2, 3-2) got a touchdown run from quarterback Josh Jackson, who was 20 of 32 passing for 197 yards and two interceptions.
“They schemed us up pretty good,” Jackson said.
The Hokies came in with the nation’s No. 2 scoring defense, giving up a mere 11.5 points per game. They were outgained 429-299 by a Miami team looking to make a statement.
“Congratulations to Miami and coach Richt,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “They’re good, sound and talented in all three phases of the game.”
After winning their most recent four games by a combined 18 points, and struggling mightily at times last weekend against North Carolina, the Hurricanes are in total control of the ACC’s Coastal Division. Miami’s magic number to win the Coastal title is down to one; another victory or any other league loss by Virginia would be enough to send the Hurricanes to the ACC title game for the first time.
The Dec. 2 matchup could be set next weekend. If Clemson wins at Florida State or N.C. State loses at Boston College, the Tigers would clinch the Atlantic crown. And if Virginia loses at Louisville, the Hurricanes would — finally — be Coastal champions, a distinction they’ve annually chased in vain since the ACC went to a divisional system in 2005.
Rosier threw a pair of interceptions early in the third quarter, and what was once a 14-0 Miami lead was trimmed to 14-10 when Jackson ran in from a yard out.
Later in the third, Rosier took a late hit from Virginia Tech rover Reggie Floyd and the penalty put Miami at the Hokies 43. On the very next play, Rosier found Herndon, who made Floyd miss and galloped down the left sideline to the end zone to restore an 11-point lead. Rosier scored on a 13-yard keeper early in the fourth, and Miami had the game in hand.
A Coastal title ring might be next.
“We’re not done yet,” Berrios said.
Virginia Tech: Jackson got hurt when Jonathan Garvin knocked the ball out of his grasp midway through the fourth, and stayed in the game after getting checked out on the sideline. … The Hokies were 39-3 since 1996 when intercepting at least three passes, and were 4-0 against Miami when having that many.
Miami: The Hurricanes set the tone early when they threw six passes on their first drive — and Rosier was the intended receiver on two passes, a trick-filled start. … Miami had seven passes for more than 15 yards, and six runs of more than 10 yards. … Rosier is now 9-0 as a starter.
Miami will remain in the top 10 for a fourth consecutive week, the first time that’s happened since 2005.
Virginia Tech will drop, but should still remain on pace to spend the entire season in the Top 25 for the first time since 2011.
Virginia Tech: Visits Georgia Tech on Saturday, a matchup of teams who could finish second in the Coastal.
Miami: Hosts No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday night, the first Hurricanes home game against the Irish since 1989.
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