CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – It’s the game everyone has waited for.
Undefeated No. 7 Miami against 3rd ranked and one loss Notre Dame.
A generation ago Miami and Notre Dame battled in a galaxy of their own and the matchups were epic.
There is no need for nostalgia this week. This game is the most important of the season for both teams, and the most important Miami has played in years.
The winner continues in the hunt for a berth in the College Football Playoff.
Needless to say, the stakes are every bit as high this year as they were in 1980’s.
Notre Dame has won seven straight games and have pounded their opponents into submission with the nation’s 5th best rushing game.
The Fighting Irish are averaging 324 yards a game on the ground and have rushed for over 300 yards in seven of nine games, including over 500 yards against Boston College.
Notre Dame is led by running back Josh ‘big run’ Adams.
The 6’2 235-pound bruiser has rushed for 1191 yards and nine touchdowns. He has seven touchdown runs of at least 60 yards and touchdown runs of at least 70 yards in four of the last five games.
Quarterback Brandon Wimbush has thrown for over 12,000 yards and run for over 600.
He has thrown 11 touchdown passes against just two interceptions and has rushed for 13 touchdowns.
Playing its most physical and toughest game of the year is what the Hurricanes defensive line must produce.
Miami leads the nations in tackles for losses per game at 8.8 and if they’re going to slow down this bruising running game they must create negative plays.
“We handle it the same way we handle every attack,” said Miami linebacker Shaq Quarterman. “The main objective is to run the ball. If you can’t run the ball, very few teams can win with just passing the ball. That’s our M.O. If you stop the run, then you stop the team.”
Another major key will be turnovers. Miami has created 20 takeaways and the bedazzling turnover chain has been the rage all across the nation, but the Irish have turned the ball over only five times all season.
The last thing Notre Dame wants to see is the turnover chain.
For the Canes on offense Miami will have to be patient.
Notre Dame is a big physical defense that doesn’t want to give up the big play. They want to see if you can drive the length of the field without making a mistake.
Flawless execution will be a priority for Miami.
Last week Miami got a huge boost from its offensive line and they must win the battle of the trenches again Saturday night.
“Those guys have to get together,” said Hurricanes offensive coordinator Thomas Brown. “Obviously, everybody on offense does better when we kind of get in the same groove and when the same guys are playing, and getting reps together. Those five guys up front, that’s most of your offense, so if those guys aren’t clicking from a run game standpoint or in pass protection, you’re going to struggle no matter who’s playing quarterback, tailback or receiver. So, it’s obviously good to have him back in the groove playing well. Those guys are coming off the ball and being physical and taking pride in what they do, we have to keep it going.”
Notre Dame is 30th in rush defense allowing 136 yards per game and have allowed only 3 rushing touchdowns all season.
Last year Miami ran for only 18 yards in South bend.
Notre Dame has also done a good job of creating turnovers with 19; nine interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries. Cornerback Julian Love has three picks and has returned two for touchdowns.
The game likely will be decided by whether or not Miami can stop the Irish run game.
The Canes are #10 in yards per play on defense allowing 4.4. Miami is #1 in tackles for losses at 8.8 per game, 5th in sacks with 3.5 per game and #12 in scoring defense, allowing 17 points per game.
If Miami hits those numbers on Saturday night it could lead to an epic victory.
- This will be the 27th meeting between Miami and Notre Dame and the first in Miami since 1989.
- Malik Rosier at Hard Rock Stadium: 11 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and a 62 percent completion rate.
- Notre Dame has lost their last 5 games to the Hurricanes in MIami
- Saturday night will be the 15th time since the advent of the AP Poll in 1936 that the Irish will visit an undefeated opponent in November. They have won 3 of those games, the last in 1988 at USC.
- Mark Rich has 162 career victories, 4th most among active head coaches.