Miami and Notre Dame renew their storied rivalry in south Florida on Saturday
Notre Dame and Miami have played just 26 times, but the intensity and national title implications of this rivalry at different points over the course of the last four decades have given the series a spot in the fabric of college football history.
This is actually the first time that Notre Dame has visited Miami since 1989, making the arrival of the Irish all that more exciting to Hurricanes fans swept up in the mania of Mark Richt's current FBS-leading 13-game winning streak -- the longest streak in Miami history since 2002. But it's Notre Dame that arrives as the betting favorite and more likely College Football Playoff contender, currently sitting at No. 3 in the selection committee's rankings.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 11 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Sun Life Stadium -- Miami Gardens, Florida
TV: ABC | Live stream: WatchESPN
Notre Dame: Cleared to play after leaving the Wake Forest game in the first half, Heisman Trophy candidate Josh Adams is going to have the ball in his hands when Notre Dame's offense is asked to win what many are expecting to be a close, competitive game on a huge stage. Adams is averaging more than 130 yards per game and a ridiculous 8.7 yards per carry thanks to his frequency of explosion plays, and as the Irish offensive line leans against Miami's defensive front, there should be a few seams that start to open up as this primetime game extends into the third and fourth quarters. The school has started an official Heisman campaign behind Adams' jersey number -- #33Trucking, "Long Drives, Reliably Delivered" is the slogan -- and Saturday night will be a chance to have that moment so many voters desire to see in November. Maybe they'll need a big play to come back from a deficit or maybe it will be to protect the lead, but No. 33 will get the rock when it counts the most and if he delivers, Notre Dame will win.
Miami: Are the Hurricanes riding a wave that will crash, or is this the new normal for Miami football? Mark Richt even hesitated to use words beyond "solid" to describe the 2017 Hurricanes earlier in the year, but he stressed that as the team continued to win close games with clutch performances, something special was building within the program. To have a packed house in Hard Rock Stadium with loud fans and a dominant defensive performance against Virginia Tech was huge, ushering in a new era of title hunting that hasn't been seen since the Hurricanes joined the ACC. But following that up with a win against an elite Notre Dame team would throw Miami in the middle of the national title hunt. Miami probably still has a path to the playoff regardless of result -- something that can't be said for Notre Dame -- but winning here would demand more attention and respect as one of the best undefeated teams in the country.
I have no good read on this game. I think it's going to be wild, involve at least four combined turnovers -- get ready for the turnover chain! -- and probably be decided in the fourth quarter. Miami's defense is playing at another level, but I think the side in this game that's been undervalued is Notre Dame's defense. That group has players like Nyles Morgan and Drue Tranquill that have been in huge games for years, and this stage will be nothing new. The Irish have played well on defense under the direction of Mike Elko, and if they match Miami's intensity, get stops and keep putting the ball back in the hands of Brandon Wimbush and Josh Adams, I think Notre Dame will eventually wear Miami down and escape with a win and their playoff hopes intact. Pick: Notre Dame -3.5