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Previewing Miami Hurricanes Football at North Carolina

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UM's ACC Coastal Division hopes will either be sparked or vanquished after this weekend.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

On one side, you have a team that is a few small mistakes from being 9-0 and is coming off an absolute destruction of their biggest rival.

On the other, you have a roller coaster squad with an interim coach still trying to find its' identity and salvage the season.

Miami Vs UNC is a battle of teams who are having very contrasting seasons.

However, if the Hurricanes can somehow upset the Heels this weekend, things could do a 180 for both programs.

Sure North Carolina would need to lose one more time and UM would still need to run the table for the the Coastal title to shift places, but the feeling around both teams' seasons would alter drastically.

The 'Canes would improve to 3-0 under Larry Scott, and have their second consecutive road win over a Top 25 team.

The Tar Heels on the other hand, might have some doubt creep in, and perhaps the last two games of the season at Virginia Tech & at NC State might not look like such gimmes.

But Miami will need to take care of business on the field for all of that to matter.

And it will be no easy task, considering how explosive UNC can be,

Let's take a closer look at what to expect Saturday (3:30 PM EST ESPNU) on the field.

When Miami has the football:  The UNC front has been porous all year against the run (their leading tackler is S Donnie Miles).  So expect a healthy dose of Joe Yearby off tackle and Mark Walton on the edges Vs that front. Jeff Schoettmer and Shakeel Rashad are a pair of active LBs who the 'Canes will need to block to make the running game go. But this could be a break out game for the Hurricanes O line. The real strength of the UM offense is still Brad Kaaya's arm and decision making though. The Heels have a good cover corner in Desmond Lawrence, but not enough depth in their secondary to match-up with Stacy Coley, Rashawn Scott, and emerging TE David Njoku. Look for James Coley to continue to move Coley (Stacy) around to find favorable one on one's.  Bottom line, Miami will have plenty of opportunities to score. The big thing about this weekend for this unit is, get TD's and not FG's, because their is a very good chance North Carolina's offense will put up a lot of points on the board.

When UNC has the football: This offense is really humming behind QB Marquise Williams, who is a very strong runner and throws a beautiful deep ball.  He's not quite as good as Deshaun Watson, but Williams has similar attributes.  He has tons of weapons around him as well. Elijah Hood is the type of power runner/slasher that has given Miami's D fits all season.  Mack Hollins is a 6'4, 4.4 40 WR who is putting up Phillip Dorsett type number (26 + a catch), and he is joined by fellow very large targets Quinshad Davis (possession type) and Bug Howard (does a little of everything).  They also have ridiculous slot receiver/returner Ryan Switzer, who is another major weapon to account for.  Williams (7 INTs on the season) will occasionally give the ball up, so Corn Elder, Tracy Howard, and Artie Burns need to be on their respective games.  This is by far the best offense (sans Clemson) that the Hurricanes will see all season.

Prediction: Larry Scott is a charismatic figure who seems to know just what buttons to push week in and week out. But he is trying to overcome a ton of flaws (especially defensively) with pure heart.  Will it work this weekend against the scoring machine that North Carolina has become?   I do believe UM will put their share of points on the board, but I think in the end they will need a ton of UNC miscues and turnovers to win. Expect a spirited shoot out, with the team that's been doing it all year getting the W. Heels 38 Canes 34.