North Carolina most important Miami football game since 2017 Orange Bowl

Sep 27, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 27, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Saturday game against North Carolina is the most important for the Miami football program since the Hurricanes played in the 2017 Orange Bowl.

Hosting North Carolina at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday is the most important game for the Miami football program since the Hurricanes appeared in the 2017 Orange Bowl against Wisconsin. A win against the Tar Heels likely earns Miami a berth in the Orange Bowl for the second time in four seasons.

Saturday will be the fourth time this season the top ABC College Football announcing team of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will be announcing a Miami football game. Fowler and Herbstreit called the Miami games against Louisville, Florida State and Clemson early in the season. Miami won the first two games.

The Hurricanes were impressive with a 47-24 victory over Louisville and record-setting 52-10 suppression of Florida State. Miami was overmatched ina  42-17 loss to Clemson in October that was not as close as the final score. The Hurricanes have shown resiliency with five straight wins since the loss to the Tigers.

The 2020 season is only the second for Miami since 2003 to be in contention for a major bowl.  Miami won their only ACC Coastal Division title in 2017. The Hurricanes finished the 2003 season 11-2 and with a victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl in the last game for Miami as a member of the Big East.

Miami enters the game on Saturday ranked 10th in the College Football Playoff rankings against number 17 North Carolina. Miami has clinched third place in the ACC. The Orange Bowl berth will go to the highest-ranked ACC team in the CFP rankings, not in the playoff. The ACC Championship game next weekend will have an impact.

If Notre Dame defeats Clemson a second time the Tigers are likely eliminated from the College Football Playoff. That would put Clemson in the Orange Bowl and move the winner of the North Carolina Miami football game out of Hard Rock Stadium later this month. A Cotton, Fiesta, or Peach Bowl berth would likely await.

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The winner will build momentum in the ACC Coastal Division for 2021. The ACC eliminated the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions this season with Notre Dame playing in the conference for 2020. Miami head coach Manny Diaz mentioned this week about UNC being picked to win the Coastal in 2020. Miami can make a statement.