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Matchup of the Week: North Carolina Edition

Miami is coming off another ACC Coastal win, but now face their most important matchup to date - a divisional showdown with UNC.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

First...IT'S TIME TO GO BOWLING!!! Unless Miami gives that Duke win back... *insert laughing emoji*

The Canes (6-3, 3-2 ACC) are finally bowl eligible for the 2015 season. Want to hear something funny? Miami was 6-3, 3-2 at this very same point last season. Hopefully, this year ends a slightly differently than last year.

Good news is that Miami got Brad Kaaya back after missing a week due to a concussion suffered against Clemson. He threw for a very modest 286 yards with two touchdowns and one interception while also completing 76.9 percent of his passes. He and the offense got off to a bit of a slow start vs. Virginia, but will need to come out of the gate firing on all cylinders if they want a W on Saturday.

Speaking of Saturday, the Canes play a game that matters just a tad. Miami is set to face No. 17 North Carolina (8-1, 5-0) at 3:30 p.m. in Chapel Hill. If won, Miami will keep their ACC Coastal dreams alive as they will hand UNC their first conference loss of the season. If they lose, the ACC Coastal crown will all but go to the Tar Heels and will result in another season Miami misses postseason conference play. Let's take a look at the last time these two teams played.

Watching Duke Johnson run, man...

DO NOT let these highlights fool you, UNC is a completely different team from this past season, in case their 8-1 record doesn't already prove that. Sure, they didn't have to go through Clemson and FSU in the same season, but they did just completely throttle Duke in a 66-31 blowout.

Marquise Williams vs. Canes Secondary

COVER THE DEEP BALL!!! If anyone watched those highlights, or watched UNC at all this year, it is evident that the Tar Heels love throwing deep. That UNC-Duke game looked like EA's NCAA Football game (that I still miss).

Williams has been absolutely phenomenal this season for UNC and is clearly the leader and spark plug for this offense and team. So far in 2015, he has thrown for 2,117 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions, while completing 66 percent of his passes and 9.85(!!!) yards per attempt. Oh, you forgot already? COVER THE DEEP BALL!!! With Williams under center, or mostly five yards behind it, this offense is averaging just north of 40 points per game and 495.9 yards per game, 290 coming through the air. Williams has a plethora of receivers that he loves getting the ball to, no matter the play type or situation. UNC has four receivers who have caught more than 20 passes, each of which have more than 396 receiving yards and two or more touchdowns.

That is how you spread the love and keep everyone happy. The Canes' receivers have similar numbers, but only a trio of Rashawn Scott, Herb Waters and Stacy Coley. Artie Burns looking like an NFL prospect? Prove it. Corn Elder is the defensive playmaker? Prove it. Deon Bush has All-American talent? PROVE IT! The entire secondary on the Miami roster could be listed and the answer would remain the same. PROVE IT to the country, to the fans, to the team, to yourself that you are better than the man lining up across from you. Now, let us be realistic, pass breakups aren't going to happen every play and force 30 incompletions...UNC will get theirs, it is just a matter of how much. On top of the secondary having a big game, the defensive line will have to be HUGE against the Tar Heels. Pressure, pressure, and more pressure is needed to secure a victory.


UNC's rushing attack is one of the best on the conference with a two-headed monster of Elijah Hood and Marquise Williams. Hood has carried the ball 137 times for 813 yards and 11 touchdowns. Williams stat line is: 84/558/6 TDs. He and Hood will burn you with their legs all game long if they see a weak defensive front or a conservative secondary. That is why it is equally as important for the defensive line to play a good football game like the secondary has to.


What Miami needs to do in order to win this game is to make UNC one-dimensional. Whether they shut down to run or keep Williams from gashing the secondary (I like that one), one of those needs to happen, or it will be another LONG day for that defense. Think about the Nebraska game. Actually, no. think about the first three quarters of the Nebraska game where Miami was the aggressor and made the Cornhuskers a one-man football team. The defense looked awesome, they made plays and got the ball back Brad Kaaya and the (sometimes) potent Miami offense.

Whatever it takes, Miami needs to get the ball out of Marquise Williams' hands. He and that offense are too dangerous if you let them control the football and let them hang around at the end of the game. Remember, there is a reason this team is 8-1 and undefeated in conference, and it is because of Williams and that offense. The defense has to come ready to play from the opening snap, the offense HAS to put up points in order to win, and Miami must play 60 minutes! It cannot be stressed enough. Play fast, play focused and CUT IT LOOSE! Canes - 31, UNC - 30