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Miami (Ohio) RedHawks vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Preview and Prediction

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Notre Dame and Miami (Ohio) announced in 2014 that they would be meeting on the football field three years later. At the time, no one knew how appropriate it would be for the two teams to play this season.

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Former legendary Notre Dame head coach Ara Parseghian passed away at the age of 94 earlier this year. Parseghian not only graduated from Miami, but he also got his coaching start at his alma mater as an assistant under Woody Hayes before taking the head coaching job when Hayes moved on to Ohio State.

This game will also mark the return to South Bend of Chuck Martin, the Miami head coach who served as an assistant to Brian Kelly at Notre Dame for four years.

Miami (Ohio) at Notre Dame

When: Saturday, Sept. 30 at 5 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC Sports Network

Spread: Notre Dame -21

Three Things to Watch

1. Miami rush defense vs. Notre Dame ground game

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The RedHawks have done a pretty good job stopping the run this season, giving up just under 119 yards per game. But it will be a different world this weekend against the Notre Dame running attack. The Irish are No. 7 nationally in rushing offense, and their line and backs are vastly better than anything Miami has seen. Also, the RedHawks must account for Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush, a dynamic athlete who has rushed for touchdowns in each of the four games this fall.

2. Gus Ragland

The junior quarterback has been a very efficient performer for Miami. Last year, Ragland (above, right) competed 64 percent of his throws with 17 touchdowns and just one interception. This year, his completion percentage is down, but he does have an 8-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Miami has not run the ball effectively this year, and it is doubtful that the run game will emerge this week against the Irish, so the RedHawks will go only as far as Ragland takes them.

3. Red zone

Converting inside the 20-yard line has been a bugaboo for Notre Dame going back several years. Perhaps it’s the influence of new offensive coordinator Chip Long, but the Irish have scored points on all of their red zone opportunities this year with 89 percent of those trips resulting in touchdowns. The RedHawks defense, however, is No. 2 nationally in opponents’ red zone touchdown percentage. Flipping things around, Notre Dame has done a very good job keeping the opposition from scoring touchdowns in this area. Miami can’t compete in this game by kicking field goals, so getting six when it can is imperative.

Final Analysis

Notre Dame comes in riding high after the easy win over Michigan State and will look across the field on Saturday and see a 2-2 team from the MAC. The Irish have let their guard down in such a situation before. Two years ago, following a big win over Georgia Tech in late September, Notre Dame came out flat against a bad Massachusetts squad. They wound up winning the game handily, but late in the second period, it was a 21-20 game. Miami is a better team than UMass was in 2015, and the RedHawks will put up a fight early. But this game will never really be in doubt, and the Irish will head to Chapel Hill next week at 4-1.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Notre Dame

Prediction: Notre Dame 42, Miami (Ohio) 14

— 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.

(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images; Gus Ragland photo courtesy of www.miamiredhawks.com)