So it definitely looks like North Carolina football is not the juggernaut the media pundits at one point thought they would be this season. And it also looks like Florida State has some sort of hold over the Tar Heels, as they fell for the 17th time in 21 tries to the Seminoles last week. Ouch. That dropped the Heels to 3-3 on the season erased any remaining hope of a possible Coastal division title.
With one half of the season remaining, UNC now turns its attention another team from Florida, hosting the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday. Like the Heels, Miami started the season with big expectations but has fallen from #14 in the national polls to ranked and has won just two games (2-3, 0-1 ACC). They’ve got a talented roster, though, and two of those losses are to then top-ranked Alabama and #10 Michigan State. Kick-off is set for 3:30 in Chapel Hill.
The Hurricanes have had plenty of time to rest up for this game, they’re coming off a bye. But they’ll start the second half of their season without their quarterback. Deride King is done for the year after electing to have shoulder surgery, so second-year freshman Tyler Van Dyke is officially the new starter. Van Dyke has had some ups and downs in three appearances this fall, completing 61 percent of his passes for 473 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. He’ll face a UNC defense that ranks second in the ACC against the pass, allowing just 212 yards per game.
The Hurricanes have some talented receivers, starting with Charleston Rambo – what a name! He’s got 31 catches and is averaging over 77 receiving yards per game. Mike Harley is also a threat. UNC, meanwhile, has struggled against the pass in ACC games, allowing a 70 percent completion rate.
Miami’s running attack is led by junior Cam’Ron Harris, who has picked up 383 yards and five touchdowns. Harris has been hot the past two games, picking up 211 yards and four scores!.
On the other side of the ball, Miami’s biggest problem has been getting off the field on third down – opponents are converting 44 percent of the time. The Canes defense is better against the run than the pass, but not particularly good at either. The strength of the defense is the secondary, led by preseason All-ACC safety Bubba Bolden. Up front freshmen Jahfari Harvey and Chantz Williams each have 2.5 sacks. Linebacker Corey Flagg Jr. has one of the team’s three interceptions. They’ll have their hands full with UNC quarterback Sam Howell and sophomore receiver Josh Downs, who is averaging over 15 yards a catch and ranks 3rd in the nation with 741 yards.
On paper it looks like this should go UNC’s way. Miami is currently in the midst of a five game losing streak against Power 5 opponents. And the Tar Heels have won four of the last six meetings with the Hurricanes, including last season’s 62-26 blowout in Miami. So they should win. But that all depends on which UNC team shows up – the one that routed Duke or the one that caved in an awful loss to Florida State. Go Heels!
by Sharon Thorsland
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