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UNC vs. Miami: X-Factor

The team that wins the turnover battle will win this game.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 07 Syracuse at North Carolina Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When digging through the stats between the North Carolina Tar Heels and Miami Hurricanes, there are a lot of similarities between these two teams.

The biggest difference in overall stats in rushing yards allowed.

Miami leads the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 58.2 yards per game. Carolina is 41st in the country and sixth in the ACC with 117.8 rushing yards per game.

In a similar fashion last week in analyzing Syracuse's offense, let’s take a look at these rushing numbers.

Rushing yards allowed per game:

  • Miami (OH): 51
  • No. 23 Texas A&M: 97
  • Bethune-Cookman: 33
  • Temple: 11
  • Georgia Tech: 99

You must give the Hurricanes credit for holding two P5 teams to less than 100 yards rushing. And the Miami RedHawks rank 48th in the nation in rushing offense per game.

However, Temple ranks 123rd of 130 teams in FBS in rushing offense, and Bethune-Cookman is an FCS team.

When looking back at the Texas A&M game, the Aggies outrushed the Hurricanes in that game. This was surprising, considering Miami is the top rushing team in the ACC, ranking 13th in the nation in the category.

That game in Miami Gardens took on a pro-style feel with the passing attacks from both teams.

TAMU had more first downs, controlled the ball for five more minutes, had 60 fewer penalty yards, and converted 11 percent more third downs.

So what was the difference in that 48-33 Miami win over Texas A&M?

The same difference in the 23-20 Miami loss to Georgia Tech.


Sure, the biggest talking point from the slate of college football games last weekend is the X-Factor this weekend. Seems like the easy way out.

However, that was the biggest difference for Miami against TAMU. A kickoff returned for a touchdown by the Hurricanes was followed up with an interception for their defense, which in turn led to a field goal.

That 10-point swing put the Aggies in chase mode in the second half, and a Texas A&M fumble that led to a Miami touchdown was a backbreaker.

Miami forced three turnovers and coughed up just one fumble on a punt return.

The entire sports world knows what happened against Georgia Tech, but Miami also gave up three picks and an additional fumble during that game.

The Yellow Jackets had a 5-2 turnover margin in that game, and the 19-point underdogs earned the victory despite being dominated in nearly every other statistical category in that game.

The toughest games for Miami this season were won based on turnovers. Let’s see how turnovers impact the outcome of Carolina’s most difficult test so far this fall.