After a week off to rest and heal, Notre Dame heads to Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. to renew a storied rivalry with the University of Miami Hurricanes at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on Saturday night. The match up between the Fighting Irish and the Hurricanes on Saturday is the first between the two teams since the 2010 Sun Bowl, where Notre Dame beat Miami by a score of 33-17. This is also the first time these two teams have met in the regular season since Notre Dame defeated then 2nd-ranked Miami by a score of 29-20 in 1990.
Two weeks ago, the Irish defeated the Wolverines of Michigan at home by a score of 13-6. They used their bye week to give their nicked up players some much needed rest and recovery. The only big injury news over the break is backup defensive end Chase Hounshell will be out for the rest of the season and will have to undergo shoulder surgery this week.
Last week. the Miami Hurricanes narrowly defeated North Carolina State by a score of 44-37. Quarterback Stephen Morris threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Phillip Dorsett with 19 seconds remaining in the game to secure the win. Morris threw for a school and ACC record 566 yards last week along with completing five touchdowns. Morris had an excellent passing game against the Wolfpack, completing 26 of 49 pass attempts. This, however, is the biggest strength the Hurricane offense has right now. Their running game is all but non-existent, running for a mere 85 yards against NC State last week, averaging 2.7 yards per carry. The Hurricane defense is also suspect. The Hurricane defense ranks 114th nationally in total defense, currently allowing an average of 269 yards per game, which means their offense has to make up for this deficit. The Hurricane defense allowed North Carolina State to gain 664 total yards last week. This looks like a recipe for success for Notre Dame’s running game this week.
Watch for the Notre Dame running game to come out in full force on Saturday. With Coach Brian Kelly standing firmly behind Everett Golson as his starting quarterback (and trying to avoid his typical quarterback merry-go-round of old), the Irish should come out running Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick, and George Atkinson III full speed ahead at the Hurricane’s suspect defense.
The Notre Dame defense lead by Manit Te’o and Zeke Motta will have to be at full tilt on Saturday against Miami’s high powered passing offense (Miami’s passing offense ranks ninth nationally, averaging 328.4 yards per game), especially with the injury losses of Lo Wood and Jamoris Slaughter. The Irish’s young defensive squad, including KeiVarae Russell, Matthias Farley, Elijah Shumate and Jalen Brown have really showed so far that they can hang against the big boys. They have managed to do well enough to snag a national ranking of 19th in the category of passing defense. Hopefully they can continue this trend and continue to grow and see success.
If there ever was a signature game for Notre Dame, this is it. A prime time day against a 4-1 Hurricane team would be a huge win for the so-called irrelevant Notre Dame football program. Miami has a lot at stake this weekend as well. With major NCAA sanctions looming over their program, like a lion stalking it’s prey, beating a No. 9 ranked (AP Poll) Irish team would do a world of good for the Hurricanes and head coach Al Golden.
A less than stellar Hurricane defense against a still questionable Irish offense … and a full speed ahead Miami offense against a solid Notre Dame defense … looks like we’re gonna have quite a game here folks.
Let the “Catholics vs. Convicts” rivalry resume!