Miami Hurricanes: Why a Win vs. UNC Makes 'The U' Coastal Division Favorites

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Miami Hurricanes: Why a Win vs. UNC Makes 'The U' Coastal Division Favorites
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Denzel Perryman knows the importance of the upcoming ACC games.

Following an absolute beat-down at the hands of Collin Klein and Kansas State, the Miami Hurricanes appeared to be a team with a long way to go on both sides of the ball.

Fast forward three weeks, 124 points and three wins later, when "The U" had a huge chance to show its offensive improvement against then ninth-ranked Notre Dame.

Well, that didn't happen.

And it hasn't helped that the Miami defensive unit hasn't been a mere issue all season—it has been downright ugly. The Hurricanes currently allow 510 yards and nearly 35 points per game.

Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio is sick of hearing about it. He knows.

Head coach Al Golden knows about it. He is sick of seeing it.

Despite this massive problem, Miami is still 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Two of the conference wins did come against 1-4 Boston College and 2-4 Georgia Tech teams at a combined score of 83-68, but the important part is that the Hurricanes won.

With games against North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia Tech on the horizon, the Hurricanes are coming into the most important stretch of the 2012 season.

If Miami can win two of its next three games, Golden's young team is perfectly set up to win the Coastal Division.

This isn't to say that the Hurricanes by any means have the division anywhere near "locked up."

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But with upcoming games against Clemson and Florida State, Virginia Tech has a tough road that plays right into the hands of Miami.

The Hokies do have one ACC loss on the season. Therefore, Frank Beamer must win one of the two games against the top Atlantic Division teams and also beat Miami to challenge for the division title.

The upstart Duke Blue Devils head into Lane Stadium this weekend, and the Coastal Division will learn a lot about the status of Virginia Tech and the direction of Duke.

The "one" obstacle that Duke head coach David Cutcliffe does face, however, is the six remaining conference games. The opponents? Only Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami.

Ouch.

It may take a miracle for Duke to survive that stretch.

North Carolina shocked the ACC by taking down Virginia Tech and has two favorable non-division games remaining against the rival Wolfpack of NC State and the Maryland Terrapins.

With a win against the Hurricanes on Saturday, the Tar Heels would be right at the top in the Coastal, but the postseason ban restricts UNC from being eligible to play in the ACC championship game.

Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE
Miami looks to improve upon its 2-0 home record vs. UNC.
The Wahoos of Virginia face three non-divisional ACC opponents in the next four weeks. But with two conference losses already, the Cavaliers must win all three if they want to make any noise in the division race.

Georgia Tech had high hopes before collapsing this season. After suffering three ACC losses through the team's first six games, the Yellow Jackets are very likely out of the running for the Coastal Division crown.

If Miami does win two of three next games, the Hurricanes are in fantastic shape, especially if those two wins come against division opponents North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

However, there is a very real possibility that Miami loses three or four ACC games the rest of the way due to its defensive woes.

And who's to say that Virginia Tech doesn't turn it around?

What if Duke is actually for real?

The unknown. It's why we love college football.

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