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Adam
Clarke
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JT
Thomson
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Vishnu
Parasuraman
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Game 5: University of North Carolina
Date/Time/Location: 09.27.2018, 20:00 EST, Miami Gardens, FL
Television: ESPN

Vegas Lines
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Miami -18.5

Known Injuries for University of North Carolina

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Player Status/Updated Notes
Rontavius Groves WR Ques Thurs – Undisclosed – 9/22/18 Groves missed the last game for undisclosed reasons and it is unknown if he will dress for Thursday’s game against Miami.
Myles Dorn S Ques Thurs – Leg – 9/22/18 Dorn missed the last game with a leg injury and it is unclear if he will play Thursday against Miami.
Aaron Crawford DT Ques Thurs – Knee – 9/22/18 Crawford has missed the last four games healing from a knee injury and it is unknown if he will make his season debut Thursday against Miami.
Jonah Melton OL Ques Thurs – Suspension – 9/22/18 Melton was suspended for the last four games and it is unclear if he will make his season debut Thursday against Miami.
Brandon Fritts TE out for season – Knee – 8/16/18 Fritts is likely to miss the entire 2018 season while he recovers from surgery to fix a torn ACL in his left knee

Series History

Miami leads the all-time series 10-9 (technically. UNC has 2 wins in 2008 and 2009 that were vacated). Last year, the Canes won in Chapel Hill 24-19, in a game that probably shouldn’t have been that close.

University of North Carolina Overview

After two road losses to start the year and a cancelled game against UCF, UNC was able to pick up their first win of the year over Pitt. The Tar Heels lost to what might be a decent Cal team in week 1, but got blown out by East Carolina 41-19 in week 2. So a 38-35 win over Pitt could represent the start of a turnaround, or it could just be a reflection of the ACC’s mid-tier teams being a jumbled mess of extremely average teams.

Larry Fedora is generally known for his high-tempo, pass-first offense. But through three games, UNC has been far more balanced than you might expect. QB Nathan Elliott hasn’t exactly been stellar, with a 56.7% completion rate and a 3/4 TD/INT ratio. But he’s coming off a good game against Pitt (22/31, 313 yds, 2 TD). He has two primary targets: Anthony Ratliff-Williams and Dazz Newsome. RB Antonio Williams is off to a pretty good start, averaging 6.6 YPC and 3 TDs.

The defense has, once again, been a let down for UNC. Pitt especially was able to gash them on the ground, leaving the Tar Heels giving up an average of 4.54 YPC, 88th in the country. The biggest problem has been an inability to generate any turnovers. UNC has not intercepted a pass yet this season, and only recovered a single fumble. Against the 5 turnovers lost on offense, their -4 turnover margin is among the worst in the nation.

As for the special teams, kicker Freeman Jones is 6/7, with the lone miss from 38 yards against Pitt. UNC has neither scored a return TD nor given up one. Punter Hunter Lent averages 44 yards per punt.

What to Expect This Week

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On paper, both teams have the same short week, so theoretically nobody is benefiting from extra rest. But in practice, UNC was in a competitive conference game for a full 4 quarters, and now has to travel down to Miami. The Canes went up 31-0 against FIU before pulling just about every starter for rest. So Miami might have a slight edge there. But they should also have the edge in just about every other department. They are the clear better team here on both sides of the ball.

The big thing to watch is who will start at QB for Miami. Frankly, it has to be N’Kosi Perry. He was by no means perfect against FIU, but he showed more than enough to earn the start. It’s obvious that he provides a much higher ceiling for the Canes than Malik Rosier. Mark Richt was noncommittal about naming a starter in both the post-game press conference and in his Monday morning radio spot. But that is likely just out of respect to Rosier, and to not telegraph his decision to the Tar Heels. Even though UNC’s defense has not been particularly special, this represents a different level of challenge for Perry compared to FIU. Is Richt prepared to stick with N’Kosi if things don’t go perfect?

Predictions

Unlike the Miami QB situation, we at Sebastian’s Pub are held accountable for our performance. This year, we’ll try to show how well we did with our predictions each week. After one week, all of us should be benched.

Picker

Straight Up

Against the Spread

Clarke

3-1

2-2

Thomson

3-1

2-2

Parasuraman

3-1

2-2

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CLARKE

Thursday night games seem to have weird outcomes at a much higher rate than your average Saturday kickoff. Miami has historically been very successful in this primetime spot, especially at home. One concern is how many of Miami’s injured players will be back in the lineup, given the short week? I’m thinking specifically of Ahmmon Richards and Jaquan Johnson. They would be a considerable boost to this Miami team. N’Kosi Perry did really well in his first extended game action, and he did so without Richards or Jeff Thomas. If both are back in the lineup, UNC could be in big trouble. But ultimately I think this game is uncomfortable for the Canes deep into the second half. Miami wins by two scores in the end, but they will sweat this one out.

Miami 35, UNC 20

THOMSON

Well, this just got a whole lot more interesting, now did it not? Regardless of whether Perry starts at QB (he should), this game should not be close, and that is because the rejuvenated Miami running attack should be able to dominate the UNC defense. Assuming Miami can do that up front, it should keep the defense honest, and will give Perry (or even Rosier) plenty of opportunities to hit one of the many talented receivers for big plays as well. It has not been discussed as much, but the Miami defense has been lights out this year (even against LSU, they were much better than given credit for initially). UNC seemed to get something going on offense last week against Pittsburgh, but I do not think they have the ability to sustain drives against the Canes. It would be nice to see #4 back on defense, though. Miami wins rather easily on Thursday night.

Miami 41, UNC 14

PARASURAMAN

This is a short turnaround for both teams, which generally favors the home team. While there is the obvious focus on the QB position, this team is predicated on defense. The Canes are now second in the country in total defense. Regardless of what happens offensively, Miami will be able to lock UNC down. The defensive line will dominate. UNC will end up rotating both QBs in, but it won’t matter who plays. Miami stifles UNC defensively, which provides plenty of room for the Canes to work out offensive kinks. I actually expect Perry to play the entire game, play decently, and lead the Canes to a comfortable victory. Miami gets the run and pass game going, builds a comfortable lead, and sees the game out, with UNC scoring a garbage TD late.

Miami 38, UNC 17

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