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Syracuse v North Carolina

by Sharon Thorsland

It’s a huge game for North Carolina on Saturday, as the12th ranked Tar Heels take on #25 Miami at Kenan Stadium. Kick-off is set for 7:30. The Heels are still undefeated at 5-0 after an impressive win over Syracuse last week, while the Hurricanes (4-1) are still trying to figure out why coach Mario Cristobal didn’t take a knee to end the game against Georgia Tech. Instead a fumble led to a walk off win for the Yellow Jackets.

So the Canes are no doubt a ticked off bunch headed into this one, and the offense will be looking to redeem itself against the Heels. Much like the professional franchise down the road from them, the Hurricanes boast a high-octane and incredibly fast offense. Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke has thrown for 12 touchdowns and four interceptions – three of those came last week against George Tech. His go-to guy is Xavier Restrepo, who’s racking up nearly 96 receiving yards per game and has two touchdowns. Jacolby George and Colbie Young have combined for seven scores and are averaging over 14 yards a catch.

Miami boasts one of the top rushing attacks in the country, the Hurricanes average 211 yards per game on the ground. They’ve got a 1-2 punch in Henry Parrish and Donald Chaney, who have combined for six touchdowns. The Tar Heels played their best defense of the season last week against Syracuse, but defensive coordinator Gene Chizik says Miami’s speed sets therm apart. “Their backs are fast,” said Chizik. “Their wideouts are fast. Their managers and trainers look fast.”

The Tar Heels have a lot more speed on offense now that receiver Tez Walker is in the lineup. He’s another weapon for star quarterback Drake Maye, who leads the nation’s ninth best offense that is picking up 500 yards a game. Miami counters that with a defense that also ranks ninth nationally and is n umber one against the run, allowing just 58 yards per game on the ground. Linebacker Francisco Mauigoa anchors the defense, he leads the team in tackles, Senior cornerback Te’Cory Couch has three interceptions.

North Carolina has won four straight against Miami, although three of those games were only by three points. If Maye and the offense can keep the offense churning and the defense can limit the Hurricane’s ground game, UNC should make it five in a row. Go Tar Heels!