by Jacob Swiger
North Carolina (6-3) vs. No. 12 Miami (7-2)
[3:30 p.m., Nov. 14, Kenan Memorial Stadium]
Televised by ABC
Such a fitting time for the Hurricanes to visit Chapel Hill as former Hurricane Ida dropped inch after inch of rain throughout the area and managed to depress the entire state of North Carolina.
A win against the Tar Heels might accomplish the same in just three hours. Every week becomes more and more important for a UNC program trying to advance in its third season rebuilding.
A win by the Tar Heels would cement bowl eligibility and create quite a buzz in the ACC after starting 0-3 in the league.
Key stats: There are a couple significant streaks the Heels will attempt to keep going after this game. First, UNC has beaten four straight AP top-25 teams. Second, Miami has never won in Chapel Hill (0-3).
But these stats will have zero impact on the outcome of the game, except for the possible Jedi mind games Butch Davis plays on the Hurricanes every time he faces his former team.
Best message board tidbit on the game: A Hurricanes fan writes on Miami's scout.com forum: I am pretty sure that I will get crucified for this, but for some reason I see this being the same type of game as the VT game this year. I think we are better than UNC on talent, however, I just do not think we are physical enough to win this game on the road against a team that has our number.
UNC will win if ... UNC's stud defensive line forces Jacory Harris into another Clemson-esque performance. The Tar Heels will struggle to move the ball against Miami's defense and will need favorable field position to keep pace with Miami's athletes on offense.
Miami will win if ... The 'Canes come out playing for the ACC championship. If the 'Canes fall asleep as they have in previous visits to Kenan, UNC might steal this one in similar fashion to the Virginia Tech game.
With Harris at the helm, Miami can move the ball against any defense if he limits mistakes and is patient with the ball. The Miami skill players -- including running back Graig Cooper, who rushed for 152 yards against Virginia, and receiver Leonard Hankerson, a Miami deep threat -- will test the No. 5th-ranked defense in the country.
What people are saying about the game: Davis on UNC's offense: “And our offense has probably been challenged more than any football team that I’ve personally coached probably in the last 20 years. When you take a look at the players that we lost last year, from Richard Quinn to the three or four offensive linemen to the three wide receivers, this was a major rebuilding and re-plugging in, and the thing is that sometimes you still have to find a way to win when guys are growing and they’re young and inexperienced."
Vegas line (6-3): Miami (-4)
My prediction (6-3): There's just something that always clicks when the Heels play Miami, and I expect the offense will actually benefit from Shaun Draughn's absence for one reason: It will force John Shoop to send Ryan Houston straight up the middle against a speedy defense.
Typically with Draughn in the ball game, the Heels use a lot of motion with their receivers and backs to get him on the outside for big runs. Against Miami, that won't work. Houston, however, won't be able to rack up as many rushing yards against the bigger, faster Miami defense, though, but should do enough to keep the pressure off of T.J. Yates. UNC will chew up a lot of game clock just like the games against the Hokies and the Blue Devils.
UNC 27, Miami 24
NCAA Football 10 simulation score (6-3): Miami 24, UNC 21
Miami key performance: Running back Graig Cooper, 36 carries, 143 yards, two touchdowns
UNC key performance: Defensive end Robert Quinn, four tackles for a loss, two sacks