Miami Preview

There was a time when this rivalry was so saturated and intense that after (roughly) a 7-game series from the early 1980’s through 1990 the powers-that-be decided it was best to take a break from Notre Dame-Miami football games. Since that break these programs have kind of mirrored each other a little bit. The big and obvious difference was that Miami claimed a title in 1991 before quickly falling into scandal and struggles during the remainder of the 1990’s and then had a 4-year run of white hot fire in the early 2000’s that seemed to last much longer in retrospect.

Notre Dame (-3.5) at Miami

Hard Rock Stadium
Miami Gardens, Florida
Date: Saturday, November 11, 2017
Time: 8:00 PM ET
Television: ABC
Series: 18-7-1 Notre Dame

Miami’s mid-2000’s and onward wandering has been well documented to this point. They entered the ACC in 2004 and still haven’t won the conference once, haven’t had a season with fewer than 3 losses, and won their first bowl game last fall for the first time since 2006.

Right now, Miami appears to be “back” in the sense of being in place to win the ACC and possibly win a major bowl game. They’re also deep in the playoff race even if they’re not quite as well respected as other undefeated teams. This Saturday, the Irish and Canes meet again in the highest ranked matchup since that fateful 1990 series halter in South Bend. Now, Notre Dame travels down to south Florida.

3 Matchups to Watch

Stopping the Possession & Explosiveness from Miami’s Pass Catchers

If Nevin Shapiro could’ve created a Miami football player in a lab to ball out on the field and hang out with off the field that player would be receiver Braxton Berrios. The 5’9″ receiver teams up with 6’4″ tight end Chris Herndon to catch 68 passes this year for a super possession-y 866 yards.

Those seniors are backed up by sophomore Ahmmon Richards and true freshman Jeff Thomas who have only caught 28 passes combined this year but for a healthier 590 yards. We may see Berrios and Herndon get theirs underneath but the difference could be Richards and Thomas down field.

Miami’s Rush Defense vs. #33Trucking

The Hurricanes turned in their best rush defense performance of the year last week (43 carries, 102 yards) against a so-so Virginia Tech rushing offense. Otherwise, Miami’s defense hasn’t been all that impressive stopping the rock on the ground against a pretty easy run of a schedule.

That’s why their rush defense is ranked 82nd overall by S&P and they’re coming up against the No. 2 rushing offense according to S&P so this should be a major advantage for the Irish.

The Rise of Malik Rosier

Miami is averaging 2.8 points per game fewer than last year while the defense is giving up 0.9 points fewer per game. Quarterback Brad Kaaya left early this past spring (6th round pick by Detroit, cut by the Lions, signed by Carolina, cut by Carolina, signed by Detroit, cut by Detroit and placed on the Lions practice squad) and junior Malik Rosier has stepped into the starting job and has completed 6% fewer passes, already has the same picks (7) as Kaaya last year, and is hovering right around the same YPA as his predecessor from last fall.

And yet, the feeling across the country is that Rosier is taking Miami to a different place based on his play. It doesn’t totally feel like it adds up but his legs (295 yards on 82 carries) are definitely a major upgrade to Kaaya who was one of the least mobile quarterbacks in the country last year.

2 Stats to Consider

31.2% 3rd Down

Miami’s 3rd down conversion rate at 31.2% is really quite poor. That places them 118th nationally and 7th worst among Power 5 teams. If you look at the other teams in the top 10 of the College Football Playoff poll they average just over 16th nationally converting 3rd downs with 6 teams among the Top 13 percentage wise.

The Canes counteract this a bit by not getting into many third down scenarios. Their 96 attempts in 8 games is 2nd fewest nationally. If the Irish can force Miami into more 3rd downs than usual that’s a big win.

5.36 YPP 

The run game for Miami is pretty weird. Junior Mark Walton looked unstoppable in their first 2 games (27 carries, 352 yards) then hit a brick wall in the next 2 ACC games (29 carries, 76 yards) before being hurt for the rest of the season. Sophomore Travis Homer has stepped in and mostly played quite well, coming off 6.79 per rush last week against Virginia Tech thanks to a 64-yard scamper.

Game respect game. That’s a great t-shirt.

Miami is 17th nationally in rushing average (5.36 YPC) and they are ranked the 23rd rushing attack according to S&P, too. Yet, they’re only 76th nationally in total rushing yards. With Walton out, they are almost exclusively reliant on Homer carrying the ball plus some attempts from Rosier.

1 Prediction

Believe me, I want to completely dismiss Miami suddenly becoming a national power again. I love what commentator Underthrown Shoelace said earlier this week: “It just feels a year or two too early for the U.”

There were plenty of signs pointing to a good season for the Canes, though. They were bringing back a lot of starters and even though they suffered a bumpy middle of the 2016 season they finished with 5 straight wins, including over a pair of AP-ranked teams at season’s end. They were relatively young, gaining a ton of experience, pre-season #18, and the ACC Coastal division looked there for the taking more so than in recent memory.

The loss of Kaaya to the NFL was believed to put a damper on major expectations and I know that’s what I thought before the season. Yet, here they are possibly one game away from an undefeated regular season (UVA & Pitt should be wins) with arguably worse quarterback play than a year ago. Miami hasn’t scored more than 28 points in their last 5 games and still they remain unbeaten.

Something doesn’t quite add up and I know Irish fans can smell it.

A couple things that stand out to me if you’re pessimistic about Miami’s chances. One, using recruiting rankings this isn’t a very talented team by any means. Their 4-year Composite average is just over 18th nationally. In other words, their talent is closer to TCU and South Carolina than it is Georgia or LSU.

Secondly, this is a very untested Miami team that really hasn’t proven that much during this season. As a Notre Dame fan I can attest to the fact that this has the look and feel of a program whose brand has arrived before its football team has actually earned it on the field. After all, there’s a reason they’ve only moved up 11 spots in the AP over 2.5 months and why they are home underdogs against the Irish.

In a weird way, if Notre Dame was 8-0 with Miami’s schedule and exact same outcomes I have no doubt that the majority of the country would be extremely skeptical of the Irish. It’s just so many people are starving to have “Da U” back in their lives whether they want to admit it or not.

The problem with this narrative is that it sometimes doesn’t take much for a program to truly flip the switch. As I mentioned above, if the Canes win this weekend in a snap of a finger they could be in the ACC Championship with a playoff berth on the line. And to be fair, Miami is on a 13-game winning streak, has won their last 3 games against ranked opponents, and are a solid 5-3 against their last 8 teams over .500 in the Power 5 conferences.

Mark Richt and his team should be plenty confident and it may not mean much but Notre Dame has lost its last 5 games on the road against Miami, all inside the old Orange Bowl. The last road game in the series was 1989!

This is Notre Dame’s time, though. Miami’s doing their thing this year but they are probably a 10-3 type of team that’s going to be grabbing a ton of magazine covers going into 2018. I think this will be a sweaty, humid, and close game with Josh Adams punching his ticket to the Heisman ceremony in New York City.

  • WINNER: Notre Dame 36 Miami 30 (2OT)
  • VS. SPREAD (-3.5): Notre Dame
  • OVER/UNDER (57.5): Over
  • SPECIAL: ’88 GAME REFERENCES (12.5): Under

 

By |2018-05-09T22:25:47+00:00November 10th, 2017|Football|41 Comments

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A to the Jdannan14Cubfansince1957Publius2010MDIRISH Recent comment authors
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Clearwall
Clearwall

Your justification and final score dont seem to jibe together. You make it seem like you feel(as I do) that Miami is more hype then substance but you then predict that they are going to take us to double OT? Man, I dont see how that works. Miami is so unbelievably soft. The best part of their team, the defense, isnt even the best one that we’ve demolished this year. FEI defense, they’re #19 which puts them behind MSU but ALSO Meatchicken, Iowa, TCU, and Penn State. Other than those last two, we would trash the other teams ahead of Miami so I dont see how Miami is going to outperform where others have failed.

These guys are in for a major dose of reality and ND has shown this year that it is the program that will give it to teams. The players and team have read what the national media has been saying about the Wake game and I think that’s gonna have them ready to come out pissed off to show what a foolish idea that is. ND absolutely cruises in this game and we see a USC-level beat down in prime time.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Unless the freakin turnover chain gets a lot of play, I don’t see this as an OT type of game. Like the preview offers, I don’t see a lot of reasons to believe The U’s defense is going to offer a ton of resistance to #33Trucking. If they can’t stop the run, I think it’ll be a typical 2017 ND game of jumping out to an early lead and controlling the game from the get-go, even on the road and against a quality team.

If there’s ball security, I see a 35-17 ND win as the ideal and my hopeful final score. Competitive but the run game should be the dominant force again. If there isn’t a good start or some turnovers, then it’s probably closer to a 28-28 game and maybe the OT comes into play. Excited to see how it plays out.

The Guys Get Shirts
The Guys Get Shirts

My Irish is so up already that I would, right now, fight Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson together at the same time.

Publius2010
Publius2010

Would you rather fight one Jimmy Johnson-sized Dennis Erickson, or two Dennis Erickson-sized Jimmy Johnsons?

dannan14
dannan14

Or even a Johnson-Bear-Pig-Erickson

Concrete Charlie
Concrete Charlie

Double OT???

Oh, my poor, poor liver.

Clearwall
Clearwall

You lot seem to drink more when things are going bad. My poor, poor liver gets its workout when we’re cruising. I’m sober as a mule if we’re getting beat

KG
KG

It’s possible to be undefeated and not very good. The VT game was the first one where Miami looked the least bit impressive. Sure, as many pundits have said this week, “the ability to win close games” is a thing, and a good skill to have, and a sign of a “good” team. The ability to not be in close games is a better thing. That’s the difference between Miami and ND this year, I think. Maybe Miami is a year away, who knows. But I’m starting to get really sick of the coverage, so let’s win and move on to Navy.

Clay Cossé fka Mouth
Clay Cossé fka Mouth

They actually didn’t look that fantastic even against VT. They threw a bunch of picks, had short fields on offense and still only scored 28. I don’t know, I kind of think neither the U nor Va Tech have been very impressive. Is the U any better than SC or NC State? I don’t think so. Im picking… 38-24 I guess.

Anachronism
Anachronism

Unless the Irish are giving the football away like its Halloween candy , I don’t think this will be that close.

Clearwall
Clearwall

I’m definitely no mspaint nor am I Eric with the jersey concepts, but…

comment image
comment image

DrIck
DrIck

Still better than the black uniforms from last week.

dpet
dpet

36-30 in double OT? So we’re going to miss the XP in OT? That would not be good for my blood pressure

Brendan R

I go back and forth a lot on this game, but the closer it gets the more I feel we’re going to kill them. Eric is probably tired of hearing me say this by now, lol, but it’s the #2 S&P+ rush offense vs. the #82 S&P+ rush defense. The #1 S&P+ rush defense (Georgia) is the only one that’s stopped us this year. The #6 defense (MSU) slowed us down a bit, but not really. We’ve steamrolled everyone else, and Miami’s ranking is the second-lowest we’ll see this season, ahead only of the other Miami.

I think their offense has the potential to hit some big plays against us, but I also think Rosier will make some mistakes and that they won’t be able to stop our running game consistently, if at all. It’s the year that all my overly-rosy predictions* have worked out, so why stop now? I’ll say ND by 20+.

* OK, my Georgia prediction didn’t quite work out, but I was half right – we were able to contain their offense. 8.5/9 is still way better than I usually do.

Clay Cossé fka Mouth
Clay Cossé fka Mouth

Good analysis I think. If love to call a 20+ point win and I do think it’s possible–of course it is for a team that beat SC by 35–but on the road… im having a hard time picking us by more than 14. Maybe I’m just blinded by the U. Prolly that’s what it is.

Underthrown Shoelace
Underthrown Shoelace

ND 14+ win: 25%
ND 8-14: 25%
ND close win: 25%
Miami close win: 20%
Miami 7+ win: 5%

These are my gut feelings. If we win the turnover battle and manage 150+ on the ground, it’s a 2 score+ win.

I think a loss has to involve under 100 yards rushing and -2 or worse in turnovers.

I really liked the analysis of Rosier and I think it speaks to the general psyche of Miami fans as a whole. Everyone is so desperate to say they’re back, that they’re willing to overlook a ton of flaws and say they’re elite across the board. A Kaaya led team would be a scarier one.

KG
KG

Re: your last paragraph–they remind me in some ways of ND 2012/2015. That’s not a knock on those teams, but they weren’t consistently dominant. There was a lot of luck, there was some playing down to good teams but winning. But despite my hopes (and dropping $1000s on tix for the NCG), most of us kind of knew what was going to happen against Bama in Jan 2013–we were looking for ways that it wouldn’t happen (if we can do this, and this happens…etc.). That’s pretty much what we’re saying in Miami’s case. If Miami can get turnovers, or this, or that, and whatever. If both teams play their games, ND will create more advantage than Miami will, and win the game.

More Noise
More Noise

You spent $thousands on the ’12 NCG too? Flew in from Paris. Scalped tix. Oof.
Besides being paranoid about the stadium, I am still traumatized by the ’89 game.
So, I am thinking playing there makes this one tough.

KG
KG

It was my first in-person game since the Red Sea Nebraska game. I’d been in Asia for most of the previous decade, so we thought it was worth it. Yeah, that 3rd and 47 or whatever it was, the Randall Hill catch….I still see it in my nightmares.

MikeyB
MikeyB

I think we win by at least a touchdown and score at least 30 (in regulation). I believe in this offense. Miami has nobody who can cover Claypool 1 on 1 on the outside. If he isn’t dropping passes, I just don’t see them slowing us down. Give me 38 – 27 in a game where we lead from the end of the 1st quarter on, but no Irish fan ever feels truly comfortable (yes, I know it would take a 4 score lead for an ND fan to feel truly comfortable).

MDIRISH
MDIRISH

I also pick this score. No screens! I don’t care if the alignment is begging for it. We are terrible at executing them. If you want to pump fake one and throw deep to Stepherson I’m fine with that. Speaking of Stepherson, give me multiple jet sweeps please, and jet motion on other plays.

MikeyB
MikeyB

Stepherson getting at least 5 touches per game would make me very happy. Dude might be our best receiver.

MDIRISH
MDIRISH

We’re gonna be vindicated after this 38-0 half.

kiwifan
kiwifan

I hate Miami more than ANY other team we play. For the first time in a long time I’m very on edge about an ND game, just like I was years ago for a really big game. Over the last 20 years or so I got pretty numbed to the whole ND football scene. For decades before that we almost always were in the hunt for the NC and I got used to that. When we went downhill for so long I got inured to the losing and didn’t get too drawn into the hype when we almost got good, although I admit the 2012 team had me going.

This game gives me the old time heebie jeebies. It’s a good feeling but I’m not used to the intensity of my angst. It’s so bad I think I’ll record the game and watch after I know the score. I know, what a wuss, right?

Here are the things I’m most concerned about:

1. Home field crowd— Miami of all the schools we play seems to feed off their home crowd in games against us when the game is big. Back in the day they went mad dog. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen this time.

2. I remember the rush ends from Georgia being too darn fast for our tackles, blowing right by them. I’ve not watched Miami this year, but the conventional wisdom is that they’re also very fast and big. Georgia totally stifled our run game that day.

3. Turnovers— we can’t get them into a frenzy by giving them multiple chances to wear the darned crappy chain.

4. Our receivers dropping the ball— I have no confidence in Mack or ESB. Hopefully we’ll use Stepherson effectively as well as Claypool. I think Smythe can be a big factor in the game. I sure hope so.

The way the game SHOULD go if we play to form is we run all over them, Wimbush connects on enough long balls to keep them off balance and our real defense shows up to play again. I know we CAN do all this. This is the first really dominating ND team in at least 20 years, like the old days. Just do it, guys!

HolyCrossHog
HolyCrossHog

I’m with you on the Miami hate, other teams aren’t even close. Rewatching the ’85 game just confirms it.

HolyCrossHog
HolyCrossHog

Time to exorcise the demons at Joe Robbie.

More Noise
More Noise

Amen, amen, amen… thank goodness for you guys, and this site, where I can find comrades to share my angst — like:
– yes, KG, that 3rd and 47, it is still literally in my bad dreams
– yes, kiwifan, you have expressed exactly and precisely my biggest concerns
– yes, HCHog, it is indeed time to exorcise those demons!

HolyCrossHog
HolyCrossHog

And give them a 7 year sendoff Meatchicken style

farquad2012
farquad2012

ARod is the celebrity guest picker on Game Day… I hope he sticks around for the game
https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/attention-notre-dame-fans-a-rod-likes-your-team/

Clearwall
Clearwall

So many ways we can go with the A-Rod thing:
1. A-Rod gets replaced by a better/More Talented celebrity and sent to the hot corner
2. A-Rod is pulled from the set after it is found that he took performance enhancing drugs
3. A-Rod is paid more attention than any celebrity picker in history and he tanks his duties by never even showing up on set
4. A-Rod initially picks Miami then changes his mind last second and picks ND

Cubfansince1957
Cubfansince1957

Have you noticed that, in each of our last three games, we’ve had to deal with adversity BEFORE we’ve started to pull away?

1)USC – we get the ball first and essentially lose 10 yards on our first possession and have to punt from our 10 yard line. USC takes over at mid-field and Darnold fumbles.

2)NC State – The Pack blocks a punt and we’re down 7-0 early.

3)Wake Forest – We have to punt after a first down or two, we pin Wake Forest deep in their territory, but they go on a long drive, and though they are forced to settle for a field goal, they are up 3-0 after the first exchange of possessions, and look like they are ready to play.

Miami is going to come out stoked. All three of the above games were at home for ND. If tonight’s game starts the same way as the last three, the question is whether we’ll handle the early adversity on the road. The one quality road win we have (Sparty) started out pretty well for us, so we didn’t have to deal with early adversity.

I think, if we can handle any early adversity, we will win as we appear to warm up to the task as time goes on. However, if we can’t handle it, things could snowball and we’re in trouble.

I think we’re going to win, but I wanted to address where I think we’re vulnerable.

Go Irish!

A to the J
A to the J

I blame myself: bought the hat yesterday afternoon. Clearly premature…