Perhaps you’ve heard, but coming into this game, Notre Dame was 2-5.
But now their record is incrementally better than that after beating Miami, 30-27, at home in a game they led 17-0 after the first quarter and 20-0 early in the second.
To say the Irish were dominating in the early going would be an understatement.
After 1st qtr: Canes total yards: 2. Notre Dame: 143— WPLG Local 10 News (@WPLGLocal10) October 29, 2016
It looked like Miami didn’t have a chance. Blowing a 20-point lead, especially one built in this fashion, isn’t something you expect from any team. Via ESPN’s Matt Fortuna:
Notre Dame is 24-0 under Brian Kelly when leading by 20+ points, per ESPN Stats and Info. Additionally, Miami is 1-19 since 2010 when trailing by 17.
Notre Dame on special teams was just abysmal.
And it let the Canes back into the game.
Leading 27-20, that muffed punt by C.J. Sanders was the fourth special teams miscue of the day and it led to a go-ahead TD at the time by the Canes.
Notre Dame’s Troy Pride Jr. fumbled a punt return in the first half, which led to Miami’s first TD of the game on the drive following the miscue. Then Miami sprung a successful onside kick on the Irish and recovered it. The Canes also partially blocked a punt to add to Notre Dame’s special teams woes.
But then the Fighting Irish almost gave their best chance to win the game away ... again.
Notre Dame would score a TD to tie things up at 27 after the muffed punt, and then the Lord provided for Miami by way of this recovered fumble.
Fighting Irish TE Durham Smythe looked like he was heading into the end zone for a TD before disaster struck. A forced fumble just barely eluded the Canes, and for a second, it looked like fate was dealing Notre Dame yet another cruel blow. But a miracle recovery thanks to whatever the hell happened at the bottom of that ensuing pile saved the game for ND.
Brian Kelly took the delay of game penalty with 34 seconds left and backed up five yards. Of course it seemed certain that special teams would strike again in the way of #collegekickers, but Justin Yoon’s 23-yard field goal was true and the Irish took the lead they would not relinquish.
For Miami, this could have been a minor coup.
Not only would it have been a major comeback on a massive stage, but it is around this time in recent seasons that is typically the most crucial for the Canes.
Losing to Florida State isn’t new for The U, which they did a few weeks ago at home. Unfortunately, a swoon that derails the back portion of the season has followed the rivalry loss the last few years. Our Florida State blog, Tomahawk Nation, explains:
Following Thursday night’s Miami loss at Virginia Tech, here’s a look at the Hurricanes’ records following their annual tradition of losing to Fisher’s ‘Noles:
• 2010: 4-4
• 2011: 1-1
• 2012: 3-1
• 2013: 2-3
• 2014: 0-3
• 2015: 5-3
• 2016 (to date): 0-2
But maybe this will turn things around for Notre Dame instead.
A three game losing streak is snapped with games against Navy and Army next on the slate. Following that, Virginia Tech and USC end the season for the Irish. If a magical run to bowl eligibility is in the cards it will definitely be a big plus for an embattled Brian Kelly.