A heartbreaking loss to Florida State squelched any far-off dreams Miami had of an undefeated season, but the No. 16 Hurricanes remain in a decent spot in the ACC Coastal divisional race. To stay in it, they'll need to win at home against North Carolina on Saturday, as the Heels try to push upward in the same race.
The Tar Heels have had some good moments. They got consecutive last-minute wins against Pitt and Florida State, and things were looking steady until Virginia Take laid a 34-3 blowout on the Heels last weekend. Now the Hokies look like the division's favorite, with both of these teams and Pitt giving chase. The loser here is probably out of it, while the winner stays in the hunt. The year's really starting to move quickly.
The teams, at turns, look like difficult matchups for each other. This should be close, and this should be good.
How to watch, stream, and listen
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2. The broadcasters are Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, and Tom Luginbill.
Radio: North Carolina and Miami.
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: Miami is a touchdown favorite.
Make friends: Get to SB Nation's team blog chats for this game at State of the U and Tar Heel Blog.
Three big things to know
1. Miami's offense loves the big play. The Canes are first in the country in IsoPPP, an advanced stat that measures the explosiveness of offensive plays. The Canes' top four running backs all average better than 6 yards per carry, and quarterback Brad Kaaya's found a chunk-play threat in receiver Ahmmon Richards. Miami's offense ticks well on standard downs and doesn't slow down much even in obvious passing situations. The Canes are a handful.
2. North Carolina's got a real opportunity, because the schedule after this looks light. The Heels' opponents after Miami are Virginia (on the road), Georgia Tech, Duke (on the road), The Citadel, and NC State. They'll probably be favored in every one of those games. If they can go into that slate 5-2 instead of 4-3, a double-digit win total and divisional title aren't at all out of the question. But losing to Miami, after losing to Virginia Tech, might make for too deep a hole.
3. The Heels need to throw to win, but Miami defends the pass well. The Canes limit big plays through the air pretty well, but Carolina needs Mitch Trubisky to bite off a bunch of yards if it's going to win on the road. Miami did generally solid work last week against FSU's Deondre Francois, and it'll need to keep that up against a talented Heels passing game. An understated element of this equation: Miami's defensive line, which thrives on making chaos. If the Canes can get to Trubisky, North Carolina will have a hard time scoring enough to win.