MIAMI (FL) HURRICANES (5-0)
at NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (1-4)
Kickoff: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Line: Miami -8.5, Total: 63
ACC teams heading in opposite directions after successful 2012 campaigns will clash on Thursday night when improving Miami visits slumping North Carolina.
The Hurricanes were 7-5 during last year’s campaign, and already have five wins in their first five contests of 2013. They will be traveling to Chapel Hill where they will face a 1-4 Tar Heels team. On the season, the Hurricanes have defeated their opponents by an average of 29.2 points per game and have only been held under 30 points once (Florida) in their past nine games. In each of the past three matchups against North Carolina, Miami has covered and gone 2-1 SU with the loss coming last season in an 18-14 UNC win at Miami. Tar Heels QB Bryn Renner is expected to return to the team after a foot injury kept him from last week’s 27-17 loss against Virginia Tech. He will be an important factor in this game as North Carolina’s rushing attack ranks 114th in the nation (100.0 YPG). Miami is currently on a seven-game SU winning streak dating back to last season and has covered in 10 of its past 11 games. North Carolina, on the other hand, has failed to cover in five of its past six games, but is an impressive 9-2 SU in its past 11 home games.
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Miami has been firing on all cylinders this season and ranks in the FBS top-10 in both scoring offense (45.2 PPG) and scoring defense (16.0 PPG allowed). The Hurricanes have the ability to rely on either the passing game or running game based on who they are playing since their offense is so balanced with 274.8 passing YPG and 213.8 rushing YPG. QB Stephen Morris had his best game of the season in last week's 45-30 victory over Georgia Tech last week, completing 17-of-22 passes for 324 yards (77.3%) with three touchdowns (but also 2 INT). This brings his season totals to 950 passing yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Morris’ favorite target has been WR Allen Hurns who has an impressive 383 yards on just 20 receptions (19.2 avg.), and had more than 100 receiving yards for the second time this year in last week’s win. HB Duke Johnson has been the main back for the Hurricanes this year with 84 carries and 572 yards (6.8 YPC) on the season. Johnson has also added four touchdowns, but has not been the main back getting into the end zone. The goal-line carries have gone to HB Dallas Crawford, who despite having only 25 carries on the season, has 7 TD including two in each of his past three games. The Hurricanes' defense has been solid this year, but gave up a season-high 30 points to Georgia Tech last week and 21 points to a horrible South Florida offense the week before.
North Carolina has been very disappointing this season and has only managed one victory, which came against a Middle Tennessee team that is ranked near the bottom of FBS in most major categories. For Thursday, the Heels are lucky to have QB Bryn Renner back after missing last week’s game. Renner has 1,117 passing yards with seven touchdowns and only three interceptions this year, throwing for over 300 yards in two of his four games played. Even though Renner has played well this season, he has been getting no support from his running game. On the year, the rushing attack has gained only 2.9 YPC as a team and has five touchdowns. Instead of depending on his suspect running game to suddenly explode, Renner will look to the top-ranked NFL tight end prospect in the nation, Eric Ebron, who leads the team in both receptions (23) and receiving yards (333). Even though the Tar Heels have given up an enormous 435.8 total YPG as a defense, they have some very solid players in DE Kareem Martin (34 tackles, 1.5 sacks) and SS Tre Boston (22 tackles, 2 interceptions) who will try to keep the explosive Miami offense in check.