Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Saturday, October 15th, 12:30 PM
TV: ACC Network
Records: UNC 5-1, 1-1 ACC; Miami 2-3, 0-2 ACC
This is a game UNC should win though I am expecting a tough battle. Miami has been a mystery of sorts so far with three losses by 8, 4 and 3 points. Two of those games came on the road and the other was against a good Kansas St. team. Miami has a boatload of good players, the kind NFL scouts pay attention to which makes them similar to UNC. A lot of very good parts but not necessarily the production you would expect. In UNC's case that is often seen as a failure in scheme. At Miami that could simply be adjusting to a new coach.
At any rate, UNC faces the 97th ranked rushing defense but 39th defending the pass. That points to a potentially good day for the UNC offense which has that oft talked about balance. Gio Bernard against another poorly ranked rushing defense could mean another 100-yard rushing game and if the rushing attack is rolling it makes passing the ball easier even if the pass defense is pretty good.
On the flip side Miami has a top 40 rushing attack and is passing game is 74th. UNC's secondary play will give the Hurricane offense a boost in the air but one would hope the much talked about front seven can bottle up the running game. Much of that depends on the health of Kevin Reddick and whether Zach Brown is in or out of Everett Withers' doghouse. Plus, Jacory Harris is the type of QB who can give UNC trouble. He is mobile and provided he makes good decisions, UNC could have trouble containing the Miami offense. The catch is Harris is also prone to throw three INTs in one game so feel free to hope that is the case.
I am expecting a shootout. Neither defense is all that scary and the respective offenses are component enough with legitimate weapons on the ground and in the air to put points on the board. UNC should be plenty motivated since the Heels are still alive in the Coastal Division and 6-1 makes UNC bowl eligible for the season. Not to mention, impressing the new AD would be nice. A win in football would be the perfect cap to the past three days which saw the UNC women's soccer team beat Duke, Bubba Cunningham named athletic director and Late Night With Roy getting a much anticipated basketball season underway. After months of NCAA turmoil, normalcy is creeping its way back in and it is starting to feel good to be a Tar Heel again.
UNC 35 Miami 29