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Hot Read: Heels Survive in Miami

By Carlos Pineda
SouthernPigskin.com
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Five quick thoughts from North Carolina's 20-13 win over Miami.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Saturday afternoon was a must-win situation for both Miami and North Carolina in terms of staying alive in the ACC's Coastal Division race. The Tar Heels took an early lead and built up a decent enough margin to hold off the Hurricanes 20-13.

Below are some takeaways from this afternoon's game:

1. One of the concerns leading up to this game centered around the Hurricanes and whether they would be able to rebound from the emotional loss they suffered at the hands of Florida State last week. Despite losing seven straight to their hated rivals from Tallahassee, they entered this week with plenty to play for and so much at stake. Unfortunately for them, they got off to a slow start and trailed 20-3 at halftime. Miami managed to cut the lead down to seven points and were able turn the momentum in its favor but a costly fumble late in the game sealed the deal.

2. North Carolina put up over 400 yards of offense (461) against a Canes squad that ranked 10th in the country total defense. It's the 12th time overall and fifth under Larry Fedora that UNC has gained over 400 in a game. Mitch Trubisky threw for 299 yards with two touchdowns, and Bug Howard caught 10 passes for 156 yards to lead the way for the Tar Heels.

3. The Tar Heels' victory over Miami, coupled with Virginia Tech's surprising loss at Syracuse put North Carolina one step closer towards returning to the ACC title game. Should UNC win out, it would need the Hokies to drop one more conference game to get the nod in the Coastal Division.

4. There weren't many big plays to write about in this game, but Carolina made enough to make a difference. Trubisky's 40 yard completion to Howard on the opening drive helped lead to a field goal. T.J. Logan's 30 yard run in late in the first quarter put North Carolina deep in Miami territory to set up a touchdown six plays later, and  Trubisky's 49 yard completion to Mack Hollins set the Tar Heels up with a first and goal inside the Miami 10 just before halftime. Carolina scored two  plays later on a Howard six-yard touchdown reception.

5. The Hurricanes have now dropped two in a row. Things don't get any easier as they head to Blacksburg for a Thursday night encounter with Virginia Tech. While their path to Orlando isn't over yet, the path did get more complicated with Saturday's loss. Miami has little time to get it all together before going on the road against the Hokies.

Carlos Pineda - Carlos Pineda is a featured writer for Southern Pigskin. He covered the UCF Knights football team for Florida Today in 2010. Carlos' work has been published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Business Journal. He attended the University of Central Florida. Follow Carlos on Twitter @CarlosFPineda.