When looking at the averages, the North Carolina Tar Heels hold an advantage on offense while Miami retains a sizeable advantage on defense.
No surprises there.
But when you dig into the numbers, especially when Miami’s last game is put under the microscope, it becomes much more interesting.
The Carolina defense has allowed an average of 257 yards per game through the air this season.
Miami has allowed 251 passing yards per game.
The problems in the Hurricanes’ secondary were in full display a week and a half ago against Middle Tennessee State.
The Blue Raiders threw for over 400 yards and had a pair of 100+ yard receivers.
MTSU did not tally this many yards through screens, slants, and misdirection. The underdogs hit no. 25 Miami with big plays.
Middle Tennessee State had passing plays of 69, 71, 89, and 98 yards. They scored on three of those four completions.
MTSU was a 25-point underdog and through their aggressiveness down the field, the program picked up its very first win over a Top 25 team.
Big passing plays is the X-Factor for the Tar Heels.
Against Virginia Tech, Drake Maye had 13 passing plays of 15 yards or more. Two of those plays went for touchdowns, and the big passing plays went to five different receivers.
It is not surprising that four of those went to Josh Downs, but the pleasant surprise is Bryson Nesbit pulled in four as well.
The primary concerns will be the effectiveness of the running game and allowing Maye the time to make these plays.
If the Tar Heels can complete these types of big passing plays, it will force the Hurricanes to stretch the field. And if the Maye-Downs connection is working, the Tar Heels can dictate the flow of the game while on offense.
This Saturday’s game will provide real insight into these Tar Heels. In the afterglow of their best game of the season, can they keep building against a team that will be rested and prepared after an embarrassing loss?