Miami football at North Carolina one of best conference games in 2021

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 19:. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 19:. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Miami football team was embarrassed at home by North Carolina last December with a berth in the Orange Bowl on the line. Miami travels to Chapel Hill on October 16 in a game most will view as the defacto ACC Coastal Division Championship Game. The Hurricanes and Tar Heels will be one of the biggest games in 2021.

Miami and North Carolina have arguably the two best returning starting quarterbacks in the ACC Howell was second-team All-ACC in 2020 and King was honorable mention. No other returning QBs in the ACC for 2021 received votes for All-ACC. Howell relied on his running game in the Tar Heels victory over the Hurricanes in 2020.

King is the prototype QB for the Miami football team in the up-tempo spread offense implemented by offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. Entering their second season together, King and Lashlee should lead the Miami offense to continued development in 2021. King provides Miami with an elite dual threat playmaking QB.

North Carolina lost their two running backs who shredded the Hurricanes for 544 rushing yards last season. The Miami defense will have five games before facing North Carolina to show improvement. Opening against Alabama should be the biggest test the Miami defense faces in 2021.

"MIAMI @ NORTH CAROLINA 10/16The Hurricanes also return a seasoned starter to quarterback with Heisman potential. D’Eriq King heads into 2021 with questions following his torn ACL in the Cheez-It Bowl. King is still on track for fall camp. King broke out in 2018 at Houston with 36 touchdowns to just six interceptions.In his debut season at Miami, King threw for 2,686 yards, 23 touchdowns and five picks plus another 538 and four on the ground. These two teams squared off last year in Miami with the Hurricanes a three-point favorite. Things didn’t end well for Miami, as North Carolina trounced them, winning by a score of 62-26.The Tar Heels combined for 778 yards of total offense in the win while running back Michael Carter rushed for 308 yards and two touchdowns. His counterpart, Javonte Williams, had 236 yards and three touchdowns. Miami will look for a better showing in 2021 while the game travels to Chapel Hill."

The summary above from 247 Sports was ranked as one of “College football’s 10 best conference games for the 2021 season.” The Tar Heels 28-25 victory over Miami when the teams last played in Chapel Hill in 2019 would live up to one of college football’s best games with a similarly competitive game in 2021.

Miami has to prove it can be competitive in big games and potentially win. Since the final two games of the 2017 season when Miami finished 10-3, the Hurricanes are 2-6 against ranked teams. After breaking a nine-game bowl losing streak in 2016, Miami now has lost four straight bowl games.

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On the big stage, Miami has fallen flat. Clemson has outscored Miami 80-10 in their last two games. North Carolina will likely be the most important game on the Miami football schedule in 2021. If the Hurricanes are going to make the game with the Tar Heels one of the best conference games they need to be more competitive.