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Week 6 – Miami at Notre Dame
Miami RB Mike James
Miami RB Mike James
Posted Oct 3, 2012

Week 6 CFN Fearless Prediction – Miami at Notre Dame

Miami (4-1) vs. Notre Dame (4-0) Oct. 6, 7:30, NBC

Here’s The Deal: No, it’s not a revival of Catholics vs. Convicts. But this Saturday’s meeting at Chicago’s Soldier Field sure is a lot more compelling than most people figured it would be before the season started.

Notre Dame-Miami was a fixture in the 1980s, with the pinnacle coming in 1988, when the Irish defeated the top-ranked Hurricanes, 31-30, on a denied two-point attempt in the final minute. While the schools have only met three times since, there’s still a palpable lore and intrigue about the disparate programs being in the same building. What binds both at this moment in time is the unflinching desire to return to the glory days of the past. And what has this weekend’s game buzzing, besides the history, is that both are off to unpredictably good starts to the 2012 season.

A month ago, expectations were modest in South Bend. Conventional wisdom said that schedule is too tough and the talent is too thin, especially on offense. Through four games, though, Notre Dame has yet to lose, rising into the top 10 behind a suffocating defense. The formula hasn’t always been pretty, averaging just 18 points in wins over the Big Ten’s Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan, but it has been effective. And now the Irish have a legitimate shot of playing the next two months with an enormous carrot in front of it, a bid to a BCS bowl game.

Not much was expected of Miami in 2012. Second-year head coach Al Golden was taking an extremely young team into a season still clouded by an NCAA investigation and the dismissal of top defender Ray-Ray Armstrong. After the Canes were smoked by Kansas State on Sept. 8, 52-13, many began to wonder if they’d even qualify for the postseason. And then something improbable happened. Miami got hot, winning three straight, the last two in thrilling fashion. Two weeks ago, it rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to stun Georgia Tech in overtime. And last Saturday, the Hurricanes defeated NC State on a 62-yard scoring strike with 19 seconds left on the clock. No, Miami isn’t all the way back, but it sure is headed in the right direction, and sneaking into ACC Coastal contention.

Why Miami Might Win: The Canes have the offense cranking, and it won’t have to be prolific to outscore the Irish.

Notre Dame is having all kinds of trouble moving the ball this season. Yards and points are coming at a premium, and Brian Kelly has been forced to juggle his quarterbacks, Everett Golson and Tommy Rees. Heck, in the Michigan win, the Irish managed just 239 total yards. If Miami can put its foot on the gas, Notre Dame won’t be able to keep pace. The Canes have hung up at least 38 points in all but one game, gelling around budding QB Stephen Morris. The junior has thrown for more than 1,000 yards over the last two games, including an ACC-record 566 a week ago. He’s surrounded by a lot of speed, enough to stretch the Irish in multiple directions. Underclassmen, such as RB Duke Johnson and WR Phillip Dorsett, are helping transform the attack into one that can strike from anyplace on the field. This is the most explosive offense the Irish have seen in 2012, but …

Why Notre Dame Might Win: … it’s also the toughest D that the Canes have faced as well.

In an age of spread offenses and point-a-minute machine, Notre Dame is winning the old-fashioned way, with a tough, hard-nosed defense. Despite facing some diverse looks, such as Navy’s triple-option, the power of Michigan State RB Le’Veon Bell and the electricity of Michigan QB Denard Robinson, the Irish have allowed just 36 points … all year. All-American LB Manti Te’o spearheads a rugged front seven that’s creating a slew of turnovers, collapsing the pocket and clamping down in the red zone. Although the Miami O-line did a commendable job in September, it’ll have its hands full with the size and strength of DE Stephon Tuitt, NG Louis Nix and linebackers Prince Shembo and Danny Spond. When Miami got in the ring with a more physical Kansas State team in Week 2, it got mauled on both sides of the ball.

What To Watch Out For: Miami’s defense has been very generous this season. Will Notre Dame be able to take advantage of the surroundings?

The Canes have just seven sacks, four versus FBS programs, and have had major issues stopping the run. LB Denzel Perryman is expected to return from injury, but his availability can only help so much. The Irish don’t figure to get too cute with their gameplan. They’ll line up, hunker down and run Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood right at the heart of the Miami D. When it is time to pass, Golson and Rees will likely look in the direction of TE Tyler Eifert, who’ll enjoy a huge edge over the Miami linebackers. Wood and Eifert are a couple of gifted playmakers whose production has been dragged down by the overall malaise of the offense.

What Will Happen: It’s not 1988, but Notre Dame and Miami are still starkly different programs looking to make a statement to the nation.

The Irish are the veterans being fueled by an old-school, blue-collar defense. The Canes are the young upstarts, riding a wave of success being made possible by slick skill position players. Something will have to give in Chicago. For Miami, the surge will continue under Golden, but it’ll hit a detour this weekend. Well-rested Notre Dame has had time to prepare, and will slow down the Hurricanes with a physical brand of defense that they’ve yet to see this season. Travelling to the Midwest in October will do no favors to the fellas from South Florida either. Although the Irish won’t exactly explode offensively, they will enjoy their best output since the opener, wearing down a mediocre defense with a steady diet of runs from Wood and Riddick. ND will keep winning ugly, which has been a beautiful thing so far for the folks in South Bend.

CFN Prediction: Notre Dame 27 … Miami 16
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Notre Dame -13 O/U: 51.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Master, 1 – Trouble with the Curve): 4