Week 7 - North Carolina at Miami

Posted Oct 12, 2012

Week 7 Fearless Predictions - North Carolina at Miami

North Carolina (4-2) at Miami (4-2) Oct. 13, 2:30, ESPNU

Here's The Deal: North Carolina is hot, while Miami is not, but of the pair, only the ‘Canes have an ACC Coastal shot. While Miami was intent on making a national statement when it travelled to Chicago to face Notre Dame, it wound up instead getting a stark reality check. The Hurricanes were thoroughly outclassed for 60 minutes of a 41-3 drubbing, sending Al Golden and his assistants back to the drawing board. Still, since ND isn't a league member, Miami remains alone atop the division. Carolina, on the flip side, won't be eligible for a league championship as it serves out an NCAA penalty. However, the lack of a carrot hasn't kept the Tar Heels from administering the stick for rookie head coach Larry Fedora. The team has gotten its act together after starting 1-2, adding an exclamation point to a three-game winning streak by racing past Virginia Tech, 48-34, a week ago. Carolina is beginning to enjoy playing spoiler, a role it'll relish in the second half of the season.

Why North Carolina Might Win: The Miami D is awful, which was on display throughout the Notre Dame game. Ranked 118th nationally, they don't make stops and struggle with the basics, such as tackling. A visit from the Tar Heels will cause some sleepless nights for that ‘Canes staff. Carolina has scored 114 points over the last two games, showcasing a level of balance that has Fedora cautiously excited. QB Bryn Renner is a marksman, tossing 15 touchdown passes and only four picks. He's being given time by the ACC's best O-line, which has allowed him to find one of his budding receivers. And when Renner is clicking, RB Giovani Bernard runs like an All-American, gashing the Hokies for 262 yards last week.

Why Miami Might Win: Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas exploited the holes in the Carolina pass defense. Stephen Morris must do the same thing in order for the Hurricanes to avoid a second straight loss. The Heels can be spotty in the secondary, and almost half of their 2012 sacks came in one game, the East Carolina visit. Morris must efficiently get the ball in the hands of his best playmakers, backs Duke Johnson and Mike James, and receivers Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott. When Miami was winning three straight, including defeats of Georgia Tech and NC State, it was the big-play offense that was fueling the charge.

What To Watch: Out For: Renner is becoming increasingly comfortable throwing the ball in the direction of true freshman WR Quinshad Davis. After starting slowly, the rookie has caught 18 passes over the last four games. Miami will try to contain an eclectic mix of pass-catchers that includes speedy RB Romar Morris, big-play WR Sean Tapley and sure-handed TE Eric Ebron. Renner prefers to spread the ball around, which keeps his teammates engaged, while keeping the Hurricanes defenders on their heels.

What Will Happen All signs point to a back-and-forth shootout that could easily require an extra session in overtime. Both programs will get up and down the field, with Renner, Morris and Bernard padding this season's individual numbers. The difference at Sun Life Stadium, though, will actually come from the defenses. While Carolina has a solid array of talent, especially in the front seven, Miami is a complete mess that will not get resolved by facing one of Fedora's offensive productions. The Tar Heels will make it four straight in one of the more entertaining games of Week 7.

CFN Prediction:: North Carolina 43 … Miami 37
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) North Carolina -6.5 O/U: 69
Must Watch Rating (5 – Argo, 1 – Pitch Perfect): 3