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North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Miami Hurricanes Odds - Prediction

North Carolina Tar Heels (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS) vs. Miami Hurricanes (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date/Time: Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 3:30PM EST
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida
TV: ABC
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: UNC +7/MIA -7
Over/Under Total: 63

In ACC action, the North Carolina Tar Heels come to Hard Rock Stadium to face the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday. Neither team had a Saturday they’d like to remember in week six. North Carolina was stymied at home by Virginia Tech in a puzzling 34-3 loss that sent them to 4-2 on the season. The Hurricanes came up painfully-short to the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, 20-19, in their first loss of the season and a painful defeat at that. Both teams face a pivotal game this week.

The Virginia Tech defense and playing on a field that looked like a giant inflatable water-slide rendered the North Carolina offense moot on Saturday. It was their first touchdown-free game under 5th year head coach Larry Fedora. Four turnovers led to 20 Hokies points, with QB Mitch Trubisky throwing his first two picks of the season. Trubisky had been having big success through the air, making his 13-for-33 performance with just 58 yards all the more perplexing. Sure, they were without star back Elijah Hood, but even so, it was quite the demonstration of futility. They averaged 2.5 yards per run and the less said about the UNC offense on Saturday, the better. But we can’t put too much stock in these “clunker” types of games, as expecting this to be what the Tar Heels offense will look like now would be a miscalculation.

So far this season, the defense has been a major hurdle to overcome for the Tar Heels. They gave up 33 to Georgia in a week one loss, before giving up 23 and 28 to Illinois and James Madison. They gave up 36 to Pittsburgh and 35 to FSU, before allowing 34 to VT. They’ve been consistent at least. And they’ve managed to win the two really close games they had, with a 2-point win over FSU and a one-point win over Pitt. They’ve shown the ability to pull through tough games and have beaten a few ranked teams this season. Let’s not get too hung up on last week, though that illustrated a certain lack of bankability with this team. And whatever urgency there was with the Hokies game didn’t seem to really resonate on either side of the ball, another troubling development.

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Miami’s big hopes took a knock on Saturday, but there’s still a lot to fight for this season for a Hurricanes team that is in fact making strides. It’s just hard to lose on a blocked extra point after scoring a potential game-tying touchdown with 1:38 remaining. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. At the same time, Miami didn’t do anything to put a dent into the notion that they’re a team on the rise. And someone not protecting well enough up-front on an extra point doesn’t change that a bit. After kind of cruising into the FSU spot without a very demanding schedule, that outing should make them more battle-tempered for the next time they need to gut out a tough win. That might be this week.

Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya was decent if not electric against Florida State this past Saturday. He connected twice with Stacy Coley on scores, as Coley has 6 on the season as Kaaya’s top TD weapon. However, Kaaya is questionable this week with a bad shoulder, while Coley is also questionable with a knee problem. Leading receiver Ahmmon Richards wasn’t his normal self with 4 catches on 58 yards. The 1-2 punch in the running game with Joseph Yearby and Mark Walton didn’t really take off on Saturday, as both rushed for 39 yards on Saturday. With FSU’s Dalvin Cook running for 150, Miami’s inability to control the game with the run proved costly.

Still, there was a certain resilience with the Hurricanes’ defense on Saturday. Despite some offensive bursts from the Seminoles, they were held mostly in-check other than the third quarter, where Deondre Francois connected twice with TD throws. Miami was outgained across the board and still ended up an extra point from tying it. That type of resourcefulness can go a long way in tough games. Against the normally-potent North Carolina offense, they can really use it this week. And let’s face it, holding Florida State to 20 points in no way qualifies as a bad game. They have been pretty good, giving up just 64 total points in five games. So if UNC looks to get their high-flying act in order, they might face some resistance from a Miami “D” that can make things happen.

Miami needs to make something out of this key back-to-back home sequence after failing in part one of that equation. Losing both of these would qualify as a step back for this Hurricanes bunch. Yet, North Carolina fought hard to pump life into the team after the week one loss to Georgia. Falling to 4-3 now would be deflating whereas now they can still make some big things happen this season. That’s why it’s such a pivotal game for both teams, that time in the season where a fork in the road appears. Last week was an aberration and I see the Tar Heels having a better game this week against a banged-up Hurricanes.

Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the North Carolina Tar Heels plus 7 points.

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