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North Carolina (1-3) at Miami-Florida (2-2)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 7th, 12:00 p.m. (et).

FACTS & STATS: Site: Orange Bowl (72,319) -- Coral Gables, Florida. Television: Local. Home Record: UNC 1-2, Miami-FL 2-1. Away Record: UNC 0-1, Miami-FL 0-1. Neutral Record: UNC 0-0, Miami-FL 0-0. Conference Record: UNC 0-2, Miami-FL 0-1. Series Record: North Carolina leads, 5-4.

GAME NOTES: The Miami-Florida Hurricanes try to climb over the .500 mark for the first time this season, when they host the North Carolina Tar Heels in ACC action from the Orange Bowl this Saturday. The Hurricanes have alternated wins and losses through four games this season, including a hard-fought 14-13 victory over Houston last weekend. The win improve the team to 2-1 at home this season, with its lone loss coming to Florida State (13-10) in the opener. Miami will conclude its current three-game homestand next week against Florida International before embarking on a two-game road trip. As for North Carolina, it has played a tough schedule early and that is one reason for its 1-3 record. On September 23rd, the Tar Heels faced their third nationally-ranked foe of the season in Clemson, which handed them a 52-7 beating. It was clearly the worst effort of the year by the Tar Heels, whose lone win came over Division I-AA member Furman (45-42). UNC, however, does own a slight 5-4 edge in the all-time series with Miami, although the Hurricanes defeated the Tar Heels, 34-16, at the Orange Bowl last season.

The Tar Heels have lacked some punch on the offensive side of the ball this season and come into this game averaging a modest 19.5 ppg and 316.8 total ypg. One of the biggest problems UNC has endured in the early going is mistakes, as the team has committed 11 turnovers through four games. In their last game, the Tar Heels committed two turnovers and were held to just 150 total yards in an embarrassing 52-7 loss to Clemson. The team gained just eight first downs in the loss, while converting only 1-of-10 third down attempts. Quarterback Cam Sexton struggled in the loss, as he completed just 7-of-22 pass attempts for 96 yards and an interception. In three game this season, Sexton has completed just 47.6 percent of his throws with four interceptions and three touchdowns. Brooks Foster has been the team's main target in the passing game, as he leads the club with 18 catches to go along with 200 receiving yards. In the backfield, Ronnie McGill heads the Tar Heels with 275 yards and three touchdowns behind a solid 4.7 ypc average. McGill has been effective when given the chance to the run the ball, but has just 59 carries in four games.

Defensively, UNC has offered little resistance to its opponents this season, and is allowing a whopping 37.5 ppg and 402.8 total ypg. The unit has been just dreadful against the run thus far, giving up 217.2 ypg on the ground and 18 touchdowns in just four outings. In their previous contest, the Tar Heels were simply abused to the tune of 504 total yards and seven touchdowns in a loss to Clemson. All seven scores came on the ground, where Clemson racked up 324 yards on 58 totes. The UNC defense, which recorded just a single sack and turnover, spent over 38 minutes of the game on the field in the loss. Kareen Taylor paced the Tar Heels in defeat with 13 stops and an interception. On the year, Larry Edwards has been the club's most consistent player on this side of the ball, as he is tied for the team-lead in tackles (23), TFLs (three) and sacks (two).

The Hurricanes haven't shown much on the offensive side of the ball this season, despite averaging a respectable 364.8 total ypg. The offense has done a nice job trying to balance its run (158.8 ypg) and passing (206.0 ypg) attacks, but has had trouble finishing off drives, averaging just 20.5 ppg. Last weekend, was a perfect example of this as the Hurricanes racked up 420 total yards, but scored just two touchdowns in a one-point win over Houston. Javarris James led the charge, as he set a Miami freshman record by rushing for 148 yards in the victory. He carried the ball 18 times and scored a touchdown in helping the Hurricanes rush for 230 yards in the victory. With that effort, James now leads the team with 250 rushing yards this season. While James appears to be coming along nicely, the same can't be said about quarterback Kyle Wright, who threw for 190 yards and a touchdown last weekend, but with a pair of interceptions as well. Wright has done a solid job in completing 63.2 percent of his pass attempts this season, but he has thrown for just 766 yards and only two touchdowns. Wideouts Lance Leggett and Darnell Jenkins are currently tied for the team-lead in receptions with 13, although neither has caught a touchdown pass thus far.

On the defensive side of the ball is where the Hurricanes have played up to their potential this season, as they are holding opponents to 16.8 ppg and just 266.5 total ypg. The unit, however, could use a few more big play, as it has forced just five turnovers in four games. Last weekend, Miami's defense was at its best, limiting Houston's potent offensive attack to just 13 points and only 276 total yards. The Hurricanes only forced one turnover in the game, but made up for it with four sacks. Coming into the game, Miami had recorded just three sacks. Kenny Phillips spearheaded the Hurricane charge with 11 stops, giving him a team-best 26 for the year.

Neither team has shown it has the offense to put away an opponent early, although Miami clearly has the better shot of doing so in this game. The Hurricanes' defense and improved ground game should be enough for them to get by a struggling UNC club at home.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Florida 31, North Carolina 13

10/04 11:51:25 ET


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