CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (CBSMiami.com) – The Miami Hurricanes journey to North Carolina this Saturday will go a long way towards determining whether the Canes have any chance at a bowl game in 2011.
The Canes’ three losses have come by a combined 15 points this season, including last weekend’s heart-breaking loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies.
On the other side of the field is a North Carolina Tar Heels team that is 5-1 in 2011 and seeking to become bowl eligible against the Canes. If Carolina wins, it will match the school’s best open to a season which also happened in 1997.
The game looks to be an old-school game with both teams relying heavily on the running game to propel them to victory.
North Carolina will feature running back Giovanni Bernard, a freshman running back averaging almost 110 yards per game this season and has also scored 8 touchdowns in 2011. Bernard is averaging roughly 6.4 yards per carry this year.
Bernard will be running into a defense that has struggled to stop any opponent from moving the ball. The Canes’ once-vaunted defense is now giving up 196 yards per game on the ground and is allowing opponents to run for roughly 5 yards per carry.
On the other side of the ball, Miami will counter with sophomore running back Lamar Miller. He’s ranked fourth in the country in yards per game on the ground, averaging 135.4 yards per game. But, Miller has only put the ball in the end zone 5 times this season, despite his prolific yardage.
Miller’s job looks to be much more difficult against the North Carolina defense. The Tar Heels are only giving up 119 yards per game, good for 39th in the country. UNC is only giving up 3.33 yards per carry and has allowed just four rushing touchdowns on the season.
North Carolina’s quarterback, Bryn Renner, has a 2-1 touchdown to interception ratio and is averaging 217 yards per game through the air. Miami quarterback Jacory Harris is ranked 87th in passing yards per game at 167.4.
But, Harris has drastically improved his typically dismal interception total in 2011. He’s throwing fewer passes, but more importantly when he does throw he’s only thrown it to the wrong team three times versus nine touchdown passes.
Kickoff of the UM vs. UNC game is set for 12:30 p.m. and will be shown on the ACC Network or ESPN3.com.