College Miami Hurricanes

No. 7 Hurricanes Rout No. 3 Notre Dame, Miami Dominates In 41-8 Win

Days like Saturday – is what University of Miami football fans have been clamoring for.

No. 7 Miami put together its best performance of the season – and maybe in years – as the Hurricanes completely dismantled and out-classed visiting Notre Dame in a 41-8 drubbing of the No. 3 Fighting Irish in front of a capacity crowd of 65,303 at Hard Rock Stadium.

Everything went right for the Canes (9-0), who clinched the ACC Coastal Division title with Virginia’s loss Saturday and extended its nation-leading win streak to 13 – from the offense racking up 374 total yards of offense to the Miami defense forcing four turnovers (three interceptions and a Jonathan Garvin fumble recovery) while holding the Irish’s usually-potent offense to just 261 total yards.

UM, which hosted ESPN’s College Gameday pregame show on campus Saturday morning, took a 27-0 lead into halftime thanks to freshman cornerback Trajan Bandy returning the first interception of his career 65 yards for touchdown and it pushed the lead to 34-0 after opening the third quarter with a 9-play, 90-yard scoring drive that freshman athlete DeeJay Dallas capped with a 4-yard scamper – his first career touchdown.

Dallas punctuated the game with 4-yard scoring run – his second of the night – to put the Canes up 41-8 as fans rained down chants of “overrated” and “it’s great to be a Miami Hurricane” on Notre Dame.

Canes head coach Mark Richt, who has Miami very much in the national spotlight in just his second season of leading his alma mater, said his team just jumped on top of Notre Dame early and never let them up.

“It was an exciting night, obviously,” Richt said. “What a wonderful night for our fans, for our players – for every single person who is a part of this program. It’s amazing what can happen when everybody works together, cares about each other, loves each other and trusts each other enough for everyone to do their job.”

Notre Dame is a great team – that’s obvious – but it got away from them. And I was impressed with the way our guys performed tonight,” Richt said.

Back Or Not Back

Miami’s performance Saturday against the rival Fighting Irish really stoked the flames on the argument of if “The U is back”. Back to the heyday of 1980’s or the early 2000’s when Miami was going about the business of winning five national titles.

While the Canes didn’t draw any personal fouls for taunting or excessive celebration Saturday, it did play with a certain swagger that impressed the handful of Miami alumni – including Warren Sapp, Devin Hester, Clinton Portis, and Ed Reed – that attended Saturday’s game.

Reed, who was the team’s honorary captain Saturday, sat in on Canes practices during the week leading up to the game and helped the safeties break down film in preparation of facing Notre Dame – something junior safety Jaquan Johnson said was a “tremendous help”.

After the teams traded punts on their first drives, Miami took control of the game late in the first quarter with an 8-play, 58-yard drive that was capped with an 8-yard Braxton Berrios touchdown catch.

Berrios did showcase some classic “Miami Swagger” when he trolled the “Catholics vs. Convicts” moniker by putting his hands behind his back to mime handcuffs after he made the acrobatic catch in the end zone for Miami’s first score of the night.

Berrios finished with just a pair of receptions – tight end Christopher Herndon led the team with a team-high four catches for 30 yards – but junior quarterback Malik Rosier had an efficient and effective night with 137 passing yards (15 for 24) and 45 rushing yards and a 16-yard touchdown run that put UM ahead 14-0 with 2:33 left in the first quarter.

Sophomore running back Travis Homer turned in one of his best performances of the season, too. After totaling just 17 rushing yards in the first half, Homer helped Miami salt the game with 129 yards over the final 30 minutes to finish with a game-high 146 on 18 carries. Dallas, who was moved to running back in wake of Mark Walton’s season-ending injury – had career-highs all around with his 53 yards and two scores.

Notre Dame didn’t have a good day.

Being billed as an offensive juggernaut, the Irish struggled to do much against the Canes defense.

Notre Dame (8-2) tacked on an inconsequential touchdown and 2-point conversion right before the end of the third quarter – a 14-yard reception by Alize Mack and conversion run by quarterback Brandon Wimbush – but that’s all it could muster.

Wimbush, the dual-threat junior who had accounted for 24 total touchdowns coming into Saturday’s game, threw two first-half interceptions and was benched by Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly in the second quarter.

Kelly turned to sophomore quarterback Ian Book, but he didn’t fare much better – throwing a pick-six interception right before halftime.

Wimbush returned to the game during the third quarter and ended up completing just 10 of his 21 passes for 119 yards and rushing for 24 yards. Notre Dame’s 6-foot-2, 225-pound running back Josh Adams, who was among the country’s leading rushers this season, finished with a season-low 40 yards on 16 carries.

Miami senior offensive lineman Kc McDermott said that the Hurricanes were “tired of hearing about Notre Dame” and wanted to show everyone how good UM is.

“We wanted to prove everybody wrong pretty much,” McDermott said. “They were supposed to have the best rushing offense in the country and we just wanted to prove that ‘hey you should be talking about us’, we have a pretty damn good offensive line, too.”

After the game, players were asked plainly if Miami “was back” and there was a bit of a mixed response.

Sophomore linebacker Shaquille Quarterman said no, that The U wouldn’t be back until had was wearing a national championship ring on his finger. Rosier said similar, recalling a conversation he had with senior defensive lineman Chad Thomas postgame – that the Hurricanes still have a lot of work to do before they’re “back”.

Berrios, however, said it boldly.

Coastal Champions

If wearing a ring is the prerequisite, perhaps an ACC Championship ring will suffice since Miami clinched the ACC Coastal Division title for the first time since joining the conference in 2004.

Because Virginia lost to Louisville early Saturday, Miami will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina on December 2 to face defending ACC Champion and College Football Playoff National Champion Clemson in the conference championship game at Bank of America Stadium.

Canes fans have not-so-fond memories of the last time UM went up against the Tigers – a 58-0 drubbing at Hard Rock Stadium that led to the firing of Al Golden. Optimistically, it was that blowout loss that put things in motion for the Hurricanes to hire Richt and set the program on its current, upward course.

Miami could find itself inside the top four of the new College Football Playoff rankings – which come out Tuesday – with its victory over No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 10 Auburn upsetting No. 1 Georgia Saturday.

Even though many pundits have tried to question the Hurricanes’ merit because of their string of close wins in October – Miami has defeated its last two ranked opponents by a combined score of 69-18 and very much controls its own destiny moving forward.

J.T. Wilcox
J.T. Wilcox is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked in South Florida for more than a decade. He authors "The Bald Predictions" blog and "The Baldcast" podcast.

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