The No. 7 University of Miami Hurricanes will host longtime rival No. 3 Notre Dame Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium.
Kickoff: 8 p.m.
Weather Forecast: 82 degrees; Partly cloudy (Chance of rain: 20 percent)
All-time Series: Notre Dame leads 17-7-1 (Last won: Notre Dame 30-27 in 2016)
Head Coach: Mark Richt (2nd season)
Record: 8-0 (6-0 ACC)
Ranked: No. 7 (CFB Playoff Rankings)
Top Players: RB Mark Walton; WR Ahmmon Richards; LB Shaquille Quarterman; LB Zach McCloud; LB Michael Pinckney; TE Christopher Herndon IV; DT Kendrick Norton; DT RJ McIntosh; DE Chad Thomas; DE Joe Jackson; DB Jaquan Johnson; QB Malik Rosier; OL Navaughn Donaldson; WR Braxton Berrios; WR Darrell Langham.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Head Coach: Brian Kelly (8th season)
Record: 8-1 (Independent)
Ranked: No. 3 (CFB Playoff Rankings)
Top Players: QB Brandon Wimbush; RB Josh Adams; RB Deon McIntosh; WR Chase Claypool; WR Equanimeous St. Brown; RB Dexter Williams; LB Te’Von Coney, LB Nyles Morgan; DL Jerry Tillery; DL Daelin Hayes; DL Khalid Kareem; CB Julian Love;
Coming off a dominant 28-10 victory over Virginia Tech, Miami moved up three spots in the latest College Football Playoff Rankings to No. 7 and still is very much in control of its own destiny as the country has no choice but to take the undefeated Hurricanes seriously.
The knock on UM had been that it hadn’t recorded any “signature” or impressive wins – with more than a handful of national pundits pointing out that Miami either had to rally back or narrowly hang on for victories against inferior opponents.
While some of the Hurricanes’ victories haven’t been aesthetically pleasing, they registered as wins nonetheless. 13 wins to be exact – the nation’s longest active winning streak dating back to this past season.
What Miami has this weekend is another perfect opportunity to silence the critics – in primetime and against a very formidable foe.
College football blueblood and Miami bitter rival Notre Dame comes to town as the No. 3 team in the CFP rankings and easily one of the best offensive teams in the nation.
The Fighting Irish have enjoyed a renaissance season in 2017, rattling off seven straight wins after a one-point, week two loss to then-ranked No. 15 Georgia. That loss was given a lot of merit since the Bulldogs climbed to the No. 1 spot in the rankings while Notre Dame has ridden its dual-threat quarterback Brandon Wimbush into the top four.
Wimbush, a junior, has accounted for 24 total touchdowns (11 passing & 13 rushing) up to this point while only turning the ball over twice. Wimbush along with 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior running Josh Adams’ team-high 1,191 rushing yards this season has powered the Irish to have a top-five ground attack.
While offense is undoubtedly Notre Dame’s calling card this season, head coach Brian Kelly’s defense has only allowed 18 points per game this year – having not yielded more than 20 points to an opponent up until last week’s 48-37 win over Wake Forest – and gives the Fighting Irish an average point differential 23 points per contest.
Without question, Miami will have to play its best game of the season if it wants to come away with a victory Saturday. The Canes must rely on the expected sellout crowd and get a strong performance from its defense.
There is a bit of silver lining for UM in this game – no matter what happens against the Fighting Irish, the Hurricanes could clinch their first ever ACC Coastal division title if Virginia loses at Louisville Saturday. If the Cavaliers win, Miami will have a chance to clinch the divisional crown when it travels to play at Virginia on November 18.
+ RB Mark Walton (ankle) is OUT for the season
+ LB Jamie Gordinier (knee) is OUT for the season
+ WR Evidence Njoku (knee) is OUT for the season
+ QB Brandon Wimbush (left hand) is PROBABLE
+ RB Josh Adams (concussion) is PROBABLE
+ TE Alize Mack (concussion) is PROBABLE
+ WR Cam Smith (hamstring) is OUT
+ Nick Watkins (knee) is QUESTIONABLE
+ RB Dexter Williams (quadriceps) is QUESTIONABLE
+ DE Khalid Kareem (knee) is PROBABLE
Miami Keys To Victory
+ Avoid “The Lull” – The Hurricanes cannot afford to have a consecutive string of empty possessions. Too many times this season, Miami will have stretches of games where its offense looks stagnant and inept. To its credit, the offense will break out of the slump with an explosive drive that leads to points but a team like Notre Dame can put points on the board in a hurry and can put Miami on its heels.
+ Get 7’s Not 3’s – This is an extension of the first key. Even when Miami’s offense does click and matriculate down the field, it has shown a tendency to stall out in the red zone and end up having to settle for field goals. The Canes have to fully capitalize on its red zone chances – especially inside the 10-yard line – and come away with touchdowns.
+ Make Wimbush Throw – Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush has drawn comparisons to Louisville’s Heisman Trophy-winning signal caller Lamar Jackson with his ability to make explosive plays as a runner. Notre Dame’s coaches try to put Wimbush in advantageous passing situations – quick decisions with a limited number of reads – so Miami will have to do a good job of corralling Wimbush inside the pocket and make him make tough throws downfield.
They Said It
University of Miami sophomore linebacker Shaquille Quarterman on the rivalry with Notre Dame
“I don’t know how much the whole team knows as a whole, but we all know that we can’t lose to them. Last year happened, and we didn’t come out with the results we wanted, but this year we can’t lose to them. It’s just the standard that was set before us. They [previous Miami teams] didn’t lose to them…well they tried their best not to lose to them when they did and we just can’t lose to them.”
Notre Dame’s South Florida Connections
Deon McIntosh (38) – Sophomore running back went to Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons and is the younger brother of University of Miami defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh. He also is the brother of Davie University School 2019 running back Kenny McIntosh.
Drew White (40) – Freshman linebacker went to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.
Notre Dame (-3.5) over Miami
J.T. Wilcox = Miami 27, Notre Dame 25