No. 10 Miami (5-0, 1-0) at North Carolina (1-4, 0-2)
Thursday, 7:30 PM EST, ESPN
Line: Miami by 10
Miami is ranked in the Top 10 for the first time since 2009 and that lofty perch could be in trouble this week. The Hurricanes travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on the Tar Heels and Miami is 1-4 at Kenan Memorial Stadium.
However, UNC has been struggling mightily in Larry Fedora’s second season at the helm. The Tar Heels are 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the ACC so it’s going to take a little Thursday night magic for North Carolina to knock off the Canes.
For Miami to win: Miami always seems to have the talent, but the Hurricanes were undisciplined under Larry Coker and Randy Shannon. Now that Al Golden has been on board since 2011, Miami is not making the same mental mistakes it had in the past. So the key is for Miami to keep playing Golden football and all should be fine.
For North Carolina to win: The defense has to play out of its mind. UNC has been gashed by opposing offenses all season and if that happens again this week there is almost no scenario that has the Tar Heels winning.
Key Player (Miami): RB Duke Johnson is a big-play guy for the Hurricanes and he’s averaging 114.4 yards a game on the ground. Miami needs another top performance from Johnson to keep the pressure off of QB Stephen Morris and to control the clock.
Key Player (North Carolina): QB Bryn Renner sat out the game against Virginia Tech with a foot injury and had a bye week to get back into playing condition, and he’s slated to take over the starting role this week. Renner has the talent to lead the Tar Heels to an upset win and it would be a good way to start a turnaround for UNC.
Key Stat: Miami is limiting opponents to just 141.8 yards passing yards and North Carolina will need to be effective in the passing game to win.