After the Canes made me look foolish for placing my faith in the visiting Virginia Tech Hokies over the weekend we return again to Hard Rock Stadium as the Canes face off against #3 Notre Dame and one of the nation’s best rushing attacks. Led by junior running back Josh Adams, the Fighting Irish are fifth in the nation in rushing yards per game (324.8 per game) and have 34 rushing touchdowns on the season. The Irish have also only played in one game this season that was decided by fewer than 10 points, a 20-19 loss to the top ranked Georgia Bulldogs early in the season.
Mark Richt‘s Hurricanes are not bad defensively by any means. The U’s defensive unit has only allowed four rushing touchdowns this season and are exceptionally good at making big plays behind the line of scrimmage. On offense, quarterback Malik Rosier plays well enough to keep the team comfortably ahead of its opponents allowing the defense to control many of the games.
The Top 10 showdown between two of college football’s most notable programs will likely come down to which unit wins the battle in the trenches. Notre Dame wants to run the ball, and they want to run the ball a lot. First year starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush has only thrown for over 250 yards in a game once this season, while Rosier has thrown for over 250 yards in six of the Canes eight games. If Miami is able to slow the rushing attack of the Irish and force Wimbush to make plays with his arm the Hurricanes will roll on to 9-0 and only have the Clemson Tigers standing between them and their first Playoff berth.
On the other hand, if the Irish can run the ball even close to as dominantly as they have all season the offense will be able to dictate the clock and keep Rosier and the Cane offense off the field. Miami is not a team necessarily built to play from behind, giving Notre Dame a heavy advantage if the running game is able to establish itself early in the contest.
I tend to favor the Irish here. While Miami is one of the best in the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss, the defense also gives up a pedestrian 3.92 yards per rush. The defense will make some big plays, but sooner or later the consistency of the Notre Dame offensive assault will break down the defense and the Irish will pull away. Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish continue their incredible season, edge Notre Dame 31-21.