Let’s get the negative out of the way first: North Carolina has next to zero non-conference resume. The Heels beat FCS North Carolina A&T, FCS Delaware and 5-5 Illinois, then lost to 3-7 South Carolina on opening night in what will go down as perhaps the 2015 season’s most bizarre result. So if UNC wins out but finds itself on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday, that’s why.
And now the positive: this team is really good, and getting better by the week.
The 23rd-ranked Heels unloaded on Miami Saturday in Chapel Hill, scoring the game’s first 45 points en route to a 59-21 shellacking.
As is customary of 38-point detonations, Carolina out-played Miami on offense, defense and special teams. Marquise Williams completed 11-0f-16 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown while rushing 12 times for 101 yards and three scores. Elijah Hood added 17 rushes for 132 yards and a one-yard paydirt plunge that opened the scoring late in the first quarter.
As a team, North Carolina rushed 46 times for 298 yards and six touchdowns while liming the Hurricanes to only 99 yards on 32 carries. Most of the yards Miami did gain came well after the game was decided; the Hurricanes netted only seven yards on 18 first-half rushes.
Completing the trifecta, Ryan Switzer returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown, pushing the score to 31-0 and putting the game all but out of reach with 40 seconds remaining in the first half.
Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya netted 326 passing yards, but needed 43 attempts to get there. The sophomore tossed one touchdown, nudging the score to 45-7 at the 6:30 mark of the third quarter, but threw one interception (which Jeff Schoettmer returned 60 yards to the Miami 14, Williams scored one play later) and lost a fumble when the Hurricanes had a chance to chip into a 31-0 deficit just before the half.
The loss dropped Miami to 6-4 (3-3 ACC) with two games remaining in an already lost season.
North Carolina, though, moved to 9-1 overall and 6-0 in the ACC, needing only a win at Virginia Tech next Saturday or at N.C. State on Nov. 28 or one Pittsburgh loss in its two remaining games to clinch the ACC Coastal Division and a spot opposite No. 1 Clemson in their first ACC Championship.
We probably won’t see these Heels in this year’s College Football Playoff. But Clemson certainly isn’t looking forward to seeing them in Charlotte on Championship Saturday.