After a hard-fought loss two weeks ago against No. 8 Florida, Miami and first-year head coach Manny Diaz get set to begin ACC play against Mack Brown and the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Brown, who had been out of coaching since 2012, won his return last weekend with a thrilling 24-20 victory over South Carolina. North Carolina got a nice day out of true freshman quarterback Sam Howell, who threw for 245 yards and a pair of scores in his debut. Running back Javonte Williams added 102 yards on the ground in the victory.
Leading the North Carolina defense was former quarterback Chazz Surratt, who recorded a team-high 12 tackles and a sack in the win over Gamecocks. Overall, the Tar Heels recorded three sacks in the opener.
Miami allowed 10 sacks in its 24-20 season-opening loss to Florida. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams passed for 214 yards in his first start. The Hurricanes have good skill players with running back DeeJay Dallas, wide receiver Jeff Thomas and tight end Brevin Jordan being the most notable. Dallas finished with 94 yards rushing and a score while Jordan was the leading receiver in the opener with five catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Miami has perhaps the best corps of linebackers in the ACC, led by Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney. Defensive end Gregory Rousseau shined in the opener with a sack and two tackles for loss. Miami did struggle on special teams with a muffed punt and a short missed field goal by kicker Bubba Baxa.
The Hurricanes have not started 0-2 since 1978. Saturday’s contest begins at 8 p.m. ET and airs on ACC Network.
Prediction: Miami 24, North Carolina 23
South Florida (0-1) at Georgia Tech (0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. ET (ACC Network)
South Florida will look to avoid its eighth straight loss, dating back to last season, against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets aims for their first win under first-year head coach Geoff Collins.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 20, South Florida 13
Louisiana-Monroe (1-0) at Florida State (0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. ET (ACC Network)
After letting an 18-point lead slip away against Boise State, Florida State looks for its first win of the season against Louisiana-Monroe. The Seminoles have won the only two prior meetings by a 76-10 margin.
Prediction: Florida State 48, Louisiana-Monroe 17
No. 18 UCF (1-0) at Florida Atlantic (0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
UCF is coming off a 62-0 win over Florida A&M and enters the contest ranked in the top 5 nationally in total offense and total defense. The Owls opened the year with a 45-21 loss at Ohio State. The Knights won last season’s meeting, 56-36.
Prediction: UCF 35, Florida Atlantic 16
Western Kentucky (0-1) at Florida International (0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Florida International was embarrassed by Tulane in its opener, but return home to play Western Kentucky this week. The Hilltoppers blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in a 35-28 loss to Central Arkansas in Week 1.
Prediction: Florida International 38, Western Kentucky 21
Tennessee-Martin (1-0) at No. 11 Florida (1-0)
Saturday, Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
After winning a nail-biter against Miami, Florida should have no problem in its home opener against Tennessee-Martin. It’ll be the final non-conference game for Florida before beginning SEC play.
Prediction: Florida 56, Tennessee-Martin 14
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins
Sunday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Lamar Jackson returns to South Florida where he’ll face the Miami Dolphins. The contest will mark the debut of Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores as Miami begins its rebuild. The Ravens went 10-6 last season before falling to the Los Angeles Chargers in the Wild Card game.
Prediction: Baltimore 30, Miami 13
Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Quarterback Nick Foles will make his Jacksonville Jaguars debut against the Kansas City Chiefs and reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes. The contest will featured each of the last two AFC Championship game losers.
Prediction: Kansas City 27, Jacksonville 20
San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, Sept. 8 at 4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)
Bruce Arians will coach his first game as head man of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he faces a former NFC West foe in the San Francisco 49ers. The contest will feature a pair of quarterbacks in a “prove it” year in Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston and San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 31, San Francisco 23
Mike Ferguson is a contributor for The Grueling Truth, covering Florida sports and sports history. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. To keep up with all of his work, like his Facebook page.