No, it’s not the late 1980s or early '90s anymore. Michael Irvin and Randall Hill and Bennie Blades won’t be strutting around the field for the Hurricanes. And Rocket Ismail and Tony Rice and Chris Zorich won’t be wearing the gold helmets this weekend. "Catholics vs. Convicts" is long gone.
But despite the fact that the two teams have a combined record of 6-8, this is still Miami-Notre Dame, and this will be the first time the Canes have come to South Bend in 26 years. The players may not fully understand the history of the rivalry, but many of the fans sure do, making Saturday’s contest special.
The Irish lead the series 17-7-1 and have won four of the last five, including the last meeting in 2012 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Miami at Notre Dame
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 29 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC
Spread: Miami -2
Three Things to Watch
1. Miami Offensive Line
It’s been a bit of a train wreck the past few weeks. Despite having a talented pair of running backs in Mark Walton and Joseph Yearby, the Hurricanes have averaged just 89 rushing yards per game in their last four contests. On top of the lack of production in the ground game, 13 of the 15 sacks allowed by Miami have come in the last three games, including eight to Virginia Tech last Thursday night. The Irish defensive front does not remind anyone of Alabama, but guys like Isaac Rochell and Jarron Jones could cause problems for Miami.
2. Notre Dame Offensive Line
Much like the Miami front, Notre Dame’s offensive line has not lit the world on fire. This group is 91st in rushing offense and in yards per carry, and have allowed 19 sacks. Despite being ravaged by injuries on the defensive side of the ball, Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has pieced together a unit that is decent at stopping the run and can put pressure on the quarterback. Plus, head coach Mark Richt indicated earlier this week that some of the Canes’ injured defenders may return this week. So the Irish offensive line better be on top of their game.
3. Confidence of the Notre Dame Offense
As a team, Notre Dame’s problems began shortly after the kickoff of the opener against Texas, but the Irish offense was humming along through the first five games, averaging nearly 40 points per tilt. But in the two games since — albeit one of them in a hurricane — the ND offense has sputtered, scoring 13 points total in the two games. Quarterback DeShone Kizer was on the bench for much of the second half of the Stanford game and has had two weeks to think about how he can improve. The defense has started to hold up its end of the bargain; it’s time for the offense to do the same.
Both teams have had some issues offensively in recent weeks, and it all starts up front. The Notre Dame offensive line has been disappointing for much of the year and really struggled in the rain at NC State and versus Stanford. Miami’s line problems began when the team started facing quality competition. But while Miami’s defensive front seven can be disruptive, Notre Dame’s has not had many big moments. In the game against Virginia Tech, Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya showed what he can do when he has time to throw. The problem was, he rarely had time. The Irish cannot generate the same type of pressure as the Hokies, and the couple extra ticks that Kaaya has in the pocket will prove to be the difference.
Prediction: Miami 33, Notre Dame 27
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.