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No. 7 Miami destroys No. 3 Notre Dame to remain undefeated

The Canes are headed to the ACC Championship (thanks to Virginia’s loss), remain unbeaten, and just blew away a longtime rival.

Notre Dame v Miami Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Final Score: Miami 41 Notre Dame 8

Fourth Quarter

ND 8 Miami 41 4:00 - Jonathan Garvin whips Mike McGlinchey for a strip sack on Wimbush. The story of the night has been Miami’s front seven abusing an experienced Notre Dame offensive line that was the strength of the Irish team. Miami then scores a touchdown exclusively on the ground. The story coming into the game was the Notre Dame running game, but Miami has outrushed them 243-87.

Coming back to the question of whether the Irish will ever come back to this venue, here are Notre Dame’s last three trips to Miami:

1987 - ranked #10, lost by 24
1989 - ranked #1, lost by 17
2017 - ranked #3, lost by 33 and counting

ND 8 Miami 34 10:05 - Miami’s running game produces a few first downs, but the drive ends with a missed field goal. This does not matter in terms of the ultimate result except for the fact that the Canes consumed one-third of the time remaining. It matters in that the miss virtually ends Miami’s chances of scoring an emotionally significant 58 points. I’m moving from beer to bourbon.

Third Quarter

ND 8 Miami 34 0:12 - Notre Dame finally scores! Using misdirection for seemingly the first time in the game, the Irish get to the red zone and then Wimbush puts the ball up for Alize Mack in the end zone. Wimbush then runs in the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 26. Bear in mind that these were Notre Dame’s offensive scores in the Eighties when they played at Miami: 10, 0, 7, 0, 15. With another touchdown, the Irish will equal their best performance in that set. Watch the Irish decide after this game that they are never playing a road game at Miami ever again.

ND 0 Miami 34 4:59 - The teams trade punts. This is optimal for the team leading by 34. Josh Adams looks like a World War I soldier sent out of his trench and across No Man’s Land. He doesn’t have a chance.

ND 0 Miami 34 10:30 - We pick up right where we left off. Miami’s running game works early in the drive, then they convert a fourth down in Irish territory with a great catch by Lawrence Cager. Deejay Dallas does a Rocket Ismail impression by taking a sweep to the pylon.

In other news, how would we describe the color of the Notre Dame pants? Korma curry in honor of a food that most Notre Dame fans have never eaten?

Halftime Analysis

Second Quarter

ND 0 Miami 27 0:00 - The Ian Book experiment is a calamity. After nearly throwing a pick on a fly pattern, he telegraphs a square-in and Trajan Bandy takes the interception to the house. That man will have a column in Coral Gables. This looks like a vintage Miami team. How did they struggle with North Carolina? Josh Adams has his first good run at the end of the half. Notre Dame needs a miracle, but Mark Richt is good with the Lord.

ND 0 Miami 20 2:40 - Brian Kelly cuts bait on the malfunctioning Wimbush, bringing Ian Book into the game. Book looks likes someone in the crowd won a “play quarterback in a top ten game” promotion and the Irish go three and out. Miami then gets a first down and punts on fourth and one from the Irish 40, which is yet another missed chance for the Canes. Mrs. Bird and I are now telling our nine-year old about his bris.

ND 0 Miami 20 5:56 Miami goes three and out when they drop an open pass on third down. This matters naught because Wimbush sails a pass and the Canes make their second pick deep in Irish territory. As the British would say, Wimbush is having a shocker. Miami can’t punch it in, so they kick a field goal. If Notre Dame ever figured out how to block a running play, these missed chances could hurt the Canes. On an unrelated note, Mrs. Bird says that Kirk Herbstreit has bloated jowls.

ND 0 Miami 17 9:11 - The story of the game is that Miami is owning Notre Dame defensively on first and second downs. Two zone plays to Josh Adams net four yards because Miami is attacking those plays. Does Notre Dame have a running game wrinkle? They need it badly. Wimbush scrambles for 5.5 yards on third and six. Adams ekes out a first down from the I formation on fourth down. Then three Irish running plays net nine yards and a false start on fourth and one ends the drive. Miami ball up 17. This might become an Alabama-Mississippi State live blog.

ND 0 Miami 17 13:27 - The Notre Dame defense makes an appearance, stopping the Canes from punching in a third touchdown. They deflect Rosier’s third down pass and it nearly became a 95-yard pick six. Instead, Miami kicks a field goal and leads by 17.

First Quarter

ND 0 Miami 14 0:00 - Miami forces another three and out. Wimbush looks beleaguered. Miami takes the good field position and starts using the wildcat to move the ball down the field. The Canes have their foot on the leprechaun’s throat at the end of the first quarter.

ND 0 Miami 14 2:28 - Miami continues to put Notre Dame in long yardage situations by destroying the run game. Wimbush finally throws a pick on the third throw that ended up in a Miami defender’s hands. The turnover chain comes out and then it takes the Canes two plays to score on a short field with Rosier taking it in. Could this game get out of hand early? We haven’t seen Notre Dame have to come from behind from a significant deficit this year. Then Notre Dame holds on the return, so they are going to have terrible field position.

ND 0 Miami 7 4:01 - Miami defense continues to eat the Notre Dame running game alive. With good field position, the Canes use a couple well-executed short passes and Rosier QB draws to get inside the ten. Rosier then hits Braxton Berrios with an inch-perfect pass for the touchdown. The Canes lead 7-0 and look good. The time when we wondered whether Miami would have sufficient QB play to compete this year seems like a long time ago.

ND 0 Miami 0 8:49 - Mrs. Bird says that Notre Dame’s helmets look like they were bought at Kay Jewelers and that Mark Richt’s eyes betray stress. In related news, Miami makes a first down and then punts when Malik Rosier throws into double coverage on third down. Need to look off your primary read, my man. Miami does a great job of covering the punt, reminding us of when Miami allowed two punt return yards all year in 1989.

ND 0 Miami 0 11:48 - Miami’s run defense looks stout initially, but they allow Brandon Wimbush to make a pair of third down conversions, aided by some poor tackling on the first. On the third, the Canes get pressure and force Wimbush to throw the ball away. After one Notre Dame possession, the initial impression is that the Canes’ run defense can compete.

To get in the mood, let’s enjoy a promo for “People Who Marry Prostitutes” episode of Geraldo that aired during the ‘89 Notre Dame-Miami game:

Miami fans knocked out a window on the Notre Dame bus. The city hosted a Clasico this summer and Canes fans have learned a new skill by osmosis.

Pregame

When Miami ruled college football, one of the defining features of the Canes’ rule was their unique ability to shut down great running games. On an annual basis, Nebraska and Oklahoma would put up gaudy rushing totals over the course of the regular season. Then, those seasons would often end in the Orange Bowl with Miami crushing a ground game that had not been stopped all year.

So it was with Notre Dame. The Irish rode a dominant running game to a 24-1 record in 1988-89. The only team that could stop that ground game was Miami, as the Canes held the Irish to 113 net yards rushing in their 1988 classic and then 178 yards in 1989 when Miami ended Notre Dame’s 23-game winning streak. In fact, Miami’s dominance over the Notre Dame ground game was a decade-long phenomenon, as this graphic from the 1989 game demonstrates:

Fast forward to 2017 for Notre Dame’s first road game against Miami since 1989. The teams have played twice in South Bend, once in Chicago, and once in El Paso, but the Irish have not ventured back to a place where their offense went to die repeatedly in the Eighties. As in 1989, Notre Dame brings a brutal ground game, one that is piling up 325 yards per game and leads the nation in yards per carry.

Miami’s task once again is to stop a great running game in South Florida. The difference is that this Miami team isn’t exactly starting Cortez Kennedy and Russell Maryland at defensive tackle with Bernard Clark cleaning up everything behind them. In 1989, Miami came into the Notre Dame game allowing 1.8 yards per carry and 62 yards per game; now, they are allowing 170 yards and 3.9 yards per carry. Indeed, Bill Connelly identified the confrontation between the Miami run defense and the Notre Dame running game as the biggest mismatch between the teams. Nothing else will matter if Notre Dame tramples Miami on the ground.

The stakes for this game are huge. The winner will be in great position to make the Playoff; the loser will be virtually eliminated. The crowd will be electric, as is usually the case when the Canes are in the top 10 and playing a big game at home. To steal a line from their opponent, Miami’s front seven is going to have to wake up the echoes to win tonight.