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Lot on line for UM, Va. Tech

TBO.com The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 02:00 AM

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BLACKSBURG, Va. -

Jacory Harris is talking like he has it covered.

The Miami quarterback will lead his team into Lane Stadium today for a game against No. 21 Virginia Tech, and the stakes are already high for the longtime conference rivals.

The Hurricanes (2-2, 0-1 ACC) have lost two in a row against the Hokies (4-1, 0-1), and the loser will have a steep hill to climb to get back into the ACC race.

Harris is climbing the career passing lists at Miami and in the ACC. His 56 touchdown passes tie him with Houston's Matt Schaub and Atlanta's Matt Ryan for 13th in league history. He's not inclined to shy away from the importance of the matchup, even on the road.

"It's like playoff mentality. We can't lose this game," he said.

The one thing the Hokies have been able to count on this season has been their defense. It ranks fourth overall nationally, and second against the run. Virginia Tech leads to ACC with an average of three sacks per game, and has at least one interception in 12 straight games.

Harris, though, seems to be bringing that old swagger back for the Hurricanes. His six touchdown passes are twice as many as the Hokies have allowed this season, but Miami's pro-style passing offense still ranks last in the ACC, managing just 199.8 yards per game.

"There's some good players, pretty decent athletes," Harris said of the Hokies defense. "We've got to go out there and play our brand of football, beat them using the things we've learned."

Two years ago, the Hokies rattled Harris early with a sack that caused him to fumble, and he finished 9-for-25 for 150 yards with an interception as Virginia Tech rolled at home, 31-7.

Cornerback Jayron Hosley, who has 12 career interceptions, thinks Harris' comfort in his offense sometimes betrays him.

"I think his mistakes come where he feels he knows it too much and he trusts his receivers to be there, and sometimes they're not always there," Hosley said this week. "He sometimes throws the ball a little blindly, he gets a little reckless sometimes when under pressure."

The Hokies also will rely on tailback David Wilson, who leads the ACC in rushing at 128 yards per game.

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