It’s a matchup of teams from the Coastal Division of the ACC in Week 5 action on the college football gridiron. The North Carolina Tar Heels are on the road as they head to South Beach to face the #16 Miami Hurricanes Thursday night. North Carolina picked up a 38-35 win over Pitt in their conference opener at home Saturday. Miami defeated Florida International 31-17 at home Saturday in their last contest. The Tar Heels lead the all-time series between the teams 11-10 but it was the Hurricanes taking a 24-19 win in Chapel Hill in the last meeting on October 28, 2017.
North Carolina Tar Heels Seek Back to Back Wins
North Carolina managed to pick up a win over Pitt at home to get into the win column for the first time this season. The Tar Heels improved to 1-2 with the win and are 1-0 in conference play. North Carolina erased a 28-21 halftime deficit with a 17-0 third-quarter advantage and then held on for the win. The Tar Heels outgained the Panthers 486-402, held a 23-20 edge in first downs and were edged by a 30:36 to 29:24 margin in time of possession. Both teams committed a turnover in the contest but it was North Carolina to come up with the victory.
The Tar Heels are 72nd in the FBS in passing offense as they average 228 yards per game through the air and tied for 79th in rushing with 166 yards per contest. North Carolina is 101st in scoring offense as they put up 24.7 points per contest and a miserable 104th in scoring defense as they allow 33.3 points a game. Nathan Elliott is 59 of 104 passing for 669 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions. Cade Fortin is three of six for 15 yards. Jordon Brown is second on the Tar Heels on the ground with 28 carries for 123 yards plus two scores while Antonio Williams has a team-leading 257 yards and three scores on 39 attempts this season. Anthony Ratliff-Williams (11 receptions, 230 yards, TD) and Dazz Newsome (11 catches, 132 yards) are tied for the team lead in receptions. No other player has more than six catches on the year. Freeman Jones has hit all eight extra point attempts and six of seven field goals this season with a long of 49 this season.
Miami Hurricanes Gun for Fourth Straight Win
Miami has won three straight after losing their season opener to LSU as they managed to come up with the win over Florida International Saturday. The Hurricanes now shoot for a fourth straight win to keep rolling in their conference opener. Miami jumped to a 24-0 lead at the half and led 31-0 after three quarters. Florida International didn’t get on the board until under seven minutes remained in the contest. The Hurricanes rolled up a 488-187 advantage in total offense, rolled up 27 first downs while allowing just seven and controlled the clock by a 36:49 to 23:11 margin. All those numbers helped offset that Miami turned the ball over twice while forcing one.
The Hurricanes are 62nd in the FBS in passing offense with 239.8 yards per game and tied for 37th in rushing offense with 209.5 yards per game. Miami (FL) stands tied for 17th in the nation in scoring offense with 43.5 points per contest and 29th in scoring defense as they allow just 18.5 points per game. Malik Rosier has completed 38 of 73 passes for 611 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions while adding 88 yards and five scores on the ground. N’Kosi Perry is 26 of 39 for 317 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. Jarren Williams (one of three, 17 yards) and Cade Weldon (two of three, 14 yards) have also seen action. Travis Horner (49 carries, team-high 276 yards, TD) and DeeJay Dallas (37 carries, 224 yards, TD) combine for a solid 1-2 punch in the ground game. Lorenzo Lingard (17 carries, 136 yards, two TD) has done his share of damage in his opportunities as well. Mike Harley (13 receptions, 103 yards) leads the team in catches while Jeff Thomas (12 catches, team-high 315 yards, two TD) and Brevin Jordan (12 receptions, 119 yards, three TD) are solid targets as well. Bubba Baxa has hit all 22 extra points and two of three field goals with a long of 38 while Alejandro Cardenas has booted both extra point attempts while not attempting a field goal this season.
- Hurricanes are 21-5 ATS in their last 26 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game
- Hurricanes are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a losing road record
- Tar Heels are 2-6-1 ATS in their last 9 games in September
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Tar Heels are going to have a challenge trying to move the ball against a Miami defense that has been stiff this season. In the last three games, the Hurricanes have allowed just 41 points after giving up 33 in the season-opening loss to LSU. Miami holds the opposition to 223.8 yards per game in total offense, including just 78.8 yards per game on the ground. Look for Miami’s defense to set the tone and carry the day as the Hurricanes make it four straight wins.
Prediction: Miami Hurricanes -17.5
Full-Game Total Pick
North Carolina may have gotten in the win column last week but their defense was still strafed for 35 points by a Pitt offense that no one is confusing with a powerhouse. While the Tar Heels are expected to get nine players back who have been serving four-game suspensions, it’s unclear as to whether they’ll see any action. Miami got a shot in the arm with Perry against Florida International to get their third straight win. If Rosier can’t go, Mark Richt can at least breathe easier seeing that Perry can move the ball.
The under is 8-1 in the Tar Heels’ last 9 Thursday games, 4-1 in their last 5 games following a straight up win and 9-3 in their last 12 games after allowing more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game. Miami has seen the under go 8-1 in their last nine conference games, 9-2 in their last 11 after a straight up win and 4-1 in their last five on Thursday. The teams have stayed under the total in each of their last four meetings in Miami and in five of their last six overall. Look for this one to be a similar sort of contest.
Prediction: Under 55.5
Full-Game Prop Bet
Miami only had 31 points last week over Florida International but it was the first time that Perry saw the majority of the action under center. He replaced Rosier after just two series in the contest. Perry is clearly the future at QB for the Hurricanes as Rosier is a fifth-year senior. North Carolina just gave up 35 points to Pitt in their last game and the Panthers are hardly an offensive powerhouse. The Tar Heels have forced just one turnover in three games while committing five. That, coupled with a defense that is 105th in the FBS in scoring defense, should push Miami over the number here.
Prediction: Miami Hurricanes Over 36.5 -125
Half-Time Side Pick
North Carolina’s defense has shown a penchant for falling apart after a strong opening quarter. This season, the Tar Heels have allowed 21 points in the opening quarter but have been gashed to the tune of 45 points in the second quarter, including 21 at the hands of Pittsburgh. Each of their three opponents so far has put up double digit points in the second, helping lead to North Carolina trailing at the half in all three contests. Miami has the ability to put points on the board pretty quickly, especially if the passing game is working. You have to think that the Hurricanes will take advantage of North Carolina’s defense to put the Tar Heels in a halftime hole for the fourth straight game.
Prediction: Miami Hurricanes -10 (-110)
Half-Time Total Bet
At halftime this season, North Carolina has trailed by scores of 17-0, 21-19 and 28-21. In the two games they went over the number at the half, they were pretty good moving the ball themselves but didn’t get help defensively. Miami has put up 76 points in the first half of their four games and that includes a three point showing against LSU in the opener. That means the Hurricanes have averaged 24.3 points in the first half of their last three games. Given North Carolina’s problems stopping Pitt last week, this one should go over the number at the half.
Prediction: Over 28.5 -115
Half-Time Prop Prediction
Despite the fact that both teams have put up some decent point totals this season, and North Carolina has been lit up defensively so far this season, points may be slow to hit the board. In the seven games the teams have played so far this season, only once has a team put points on the board in the opening five and a half minutes of a contest. That was a North Carolina field goal 1:56 into the game in their loss to East Carolina. Even with the Tar Heels’ suspect defense, they’ve managed to hold opponents off the board in the first half of the opening quarter. Look for this one to stay off the board until later in the first quarter.
Prediction: No to Will Either Team Score in the First 5 1/2 Minutes of the Game -130