Despite the obvious gulf in talent between Miami and North Carolina, it's understandable if Miami fans nervously view a matchup against the 1-4 Tar Heels as a trap game.
After all, the game is in North Carolina, it's a Thursday night contest, the Tar Heels just played Virginia Tech tough, losing 27-17, the Hurricanes have turned the ball over eight times in the past two games and Miami has to be feeling pretty good about themselves after a 5-0 start.
Miami last went into Chapel Hill as a top-10 team in 2004 and was a heavy favorite to win. Like this season, North Carolina had a losing record going into the contest. The Canes were supposed to cruise. Instead, Connor Barth made a 42-yard field goal as time expired to beat No. 4 Miami 31-28.
Fans stormed the field. Then-Miami coach Larry Coker called his defense’s inability to stop North Carolina from getting into field goal range “mind-boggling.”
That was the last time North Carolina beat a team in the top 10. And that Miami squad is the highest-ranked team Carolina has ever beaten.
So yes, all of the ingredients for a possible upset are there. But don't fret, Miami fans—your team will cruise in this contest.
You could simply look at the stats and feel good about this one. Miami is ninth in the nation in points scored per game (45.2) and ninth in points allowed (16.0). North Carolina is 94th in points scored (23.6) and 95th in points allowed (31.4).
Oh, and the Tar Heels gave up 55 points, at home, to East Carolina. East Carolina!
Miami's defense is fierce, tied for 12th in the nation with 18 sacks, tied for 17th with nine interceptions and tied for 12th with seven fumbles recovered. While Bryn Renner (1,117 passing yards, seven touchdowns, three interceptions) and the North Carolina passing offense (23rd in the nation) have been solid, they'll meet a ball-hawking Miami defense.
Plus, North Carolina is pretty one-dimensional and can't really run the ball, currently 100th in the nation in rushing yards per game (100.0).
The Hurricanes are also extremely balanced on offense. Stephen Morris has played well at quarterback this season, with 950 passing yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Duke Johnson has rushed for 572 yards and four touchdowns, and the Hurricanes boast a deep stable of receiving threats.
Look, this North Carolina team isn't terrible. There is more talent on this squad than the 1-4 start suggests, and Miami would be crazy to overlook the Tar Heels. Even Vegas thinks this one could be tight—over at Vegas Insider, the consensus line is Miami (-9.5).
But sometimes, you have to use common sense. Miami is the better team pretty much every way you slice it, and despite the whispers of "Zero Dark Thursday," they'll come out of this contest unscathed and 6-0.
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