Miami is coming off of an impressive victory over Duke, 48-0, after being out of the game for three weeks. The excitement is short-lived as the Hurricanes have a formidable opponent coming to town. North Carolina is coming off of a win against Western Carolina 49-9 and will be looking to beat the Hurricanes again. While Miami will be seeking revenge on the Tar Heels.
Last season in just the second game of the season, North Carolina was able to upset the Hurricanes 28-25. That loss has the Hurricanes excited to match up with the Tar Heels this weekend and avenge the loss from the previous year.
This game could very well down to which team will have the ball last. Both teams enter the game ranked inside the top 25 of scoring offenses nationally. The quarterback battle will definitely grab attention as D’Eriq King and Sam Howell are two of the best in the ACC. However, the weapons surrounding the players are also noteworthy.
For the Tar Heels, their offense features two of the top five rushers in the ACC. Javonte Williams leads the ACC in rushing touchdowns while Michael Carter is only 63 yards away from another 1000 yard season. In addition to the rushing attack, the wideouts are a threat to score anytime they touch the ball. Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome are two of the best in the ACC, with Brown leading the conference in receiving yards. Miami knows the challenge it’s set to face with the offense of the Tar Heels that are averaging 41.1 points per game.
On the other side, the Hurricanes are starting to hit their stride offensively in year one of the Rhett Lashlee offense. Wide receiver Mike Harley only had two catches against Duke but still finished with 105 yards. This marks the fourth straight game that a Hurricanes receiver has went over 100 yards, an area that Miami struggled with early in the season. While the passing attack is surging, Cam’Ron Harris got back into his groove rushing for 96 yards and two touchdowns. The Hurricanes also welcomed back star tight end Brevin Jordan who caught four passes for 75 yards and a touchdown.
Big Game Implications
The ACC championship picture is in cement as Clemson and Notre Dame will face off. However, the third team in the ACC is still in play for a New Year’s Six bowl game and more specifically the Orange Bowl. With Miami set to close out its next two games at home in Hard Rock Stadium, the team would love to potentially play the bowl game there also.
Although Miami is currently projected to play in the Orange Bowl, a North Carolina victory could push the ‘Canes out. Getting into the Orange Bowl would be a big boost to the athletic departments of both teams as the Bowl game has a payout of 27.5 million. Getting into a New Year’s Six bowl game also carries a lot of momentum for the following season.
This game should come down to which defense can create the most chaos on the opposing offense as they both have been very good. Although it’s a home game for Miami, there will not be the usual jam-packed crowd like in recent years. North Carolina has shown throughout its schedule that it can compete in a shootout if needed and have no issue depending on their offense. The Hurricanes secondary will also have to step up after losing one of its best players in Al Blades Jr. due to myocarditis.