Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-1 SU, 7-2 ATS) vs. Miami Hurricanes (8-0 SU, 4-4 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date/Time: Saturday, November 11th, 8:00 PM
Where: Hard Rock Stadium
By Mike M., NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ND -3 / MIA +3
Over/Under Total: 57.5
Notre Dame heads to South Beach for a Saturday night showdown against the Miami Hurricanes in what will be the most important game the teams have played against each other since their fabled 1988 Catholics vs. Convicts game that the Irish won 31-30. This weeks matchup has definite playoff implications with both teams ranked in the Top Ten, and with the college football regular season entering its home stretch, this will be an essential elimination game as neither is in a position where they can possibly afford any sort of a slip up this late in the year if they want to get one of the coveted four playoff spots.
The Irish hold a 18-7-1 all time advantage against the Hurricanes and have won the last four games between the teams, though only three of those victories have come since 2010 as the teams stopped playing on a yearly basis after the 1990 season when Miami joined the Big East.
The Canes are coming off one of their biggest wins of the season, a 28-10 pasting of Virginia Tech that now has them set up as a near lock to win their first ever ACC Coastal divisional championship and in turn their first trip to the conference championship game. After opening as underdogs against the Hokies and listening to constant clamor about how unimpressive their wins have been so far this season, Miami adopted the Us against the world mentality and used the perceived slights as additional motivation for what turned out to be a very one sided affair in their dominant win against VT. The Canes defense were the stars of the day, holding Virginia Tech to only 102 yards rushing while continuing to lead the nation in tackles for loss per game with 8.8 and sitting at 7th in turnover margin with a mark of +11.
Offensively there is some concern regarding quarterback Malik Rosier and his injured shoulder that was suffered against North Carolina two weeks ago. The usually reliable Rosier has struggled since with turnovers, as after throwing for 14 touchdowns compared to only 3 interceptions during their first six weeks, Rosier has put up a mediocre 5/4 TD-INT ratio over the past two as he clearly continues to feel the effects of his battered wing. The team already lost its starting running back in Mark Walton for the season due to injury, though thankfully for them his backup Travis Homer has filled in nicely, running for 612 yards and six touchdowns thus far while putting up at least 95 in three of their last four games. Rosier does have reliable targets in Braxton Berrios and Christopher Herndon, both have scored touchdowns in each of their last two games, but fans of the team will definitely be hoping his shoulder recuperation becomes a speedier process, especially against a team like Notre Dame that has been the best in the country all season in getting points off of turnovers with 108 scored so far.
Notre Dame enters the week coming off of a 48-37 win at home against Wake Forest, though financially invested fans of the program could not have been happy with the teams defense disappearing in the fourth quarter and allowing the Demon Deacons to claim a last second backdoor cover of the 13 point spread with a touchdown in the final minute of the game. While the Irish had little to no issue getting past the Deacs, their offense was unable to make it through the game unscathed with both star running back Josh Adams and quarterback Brandon Wimbush suffering injuries during the game.
According to head coach Brian Kelly, Adams was never in the teams concussion protocol after taking a shot to the helmet in the first quarter and was only kept from returning due to the fact that Irish already had the game well in hand. The remaining parts of the Notre Dame backfield no problem filling the void left by Adams, with Deon McIntosh and Tony Jones Jr. both scoring touchdowns on the day and the team as whole putting up over 700 yards of total offense with 380 on the ground and 330 through the air.
Brandon Wimbush was a bit more fortunate than Adams, as he was able to return to the field against Wake after injuring his non-throwing hand during a run in the second quarter once X-Rays were taken and came back negative. Wimbush continued to add to his already team record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with more two more against the Deacons to bring his season total to thirteen which ties him for 8th best in the nation. Irish fans were able to breathe a sigh of relief on Monday when it was announced that both Wimbush and Adams are fully expected play this weekend against Miami.
The line for Saturdays game opened with Notre Dame as a four point favorite but has since gone down to three. Despite the line dropping, there is no question being underdogs on their home field against the Irish will further rile up and rally the Hurricanes and their us against the world/nobody respects us mentality. Playing with such emotion can undoubtedly positively affect a team, but there is only so much it can do and when it comes down to talent on the field it appears as though Notre Dame has the upper hand, especially in the running game (offense ND-5, Miami-53 /defense ND-30, Miami -69), passing defense (ND-9, Miami-35), offensive scoring (ND-7, Miami-44) and total offense (ND-13, Miami-26). Furthermore, the shoulder injury of Canes quarterback Malik Rosier combined with the opportune Irish defense could spell additional problem for the Canes with Rosier clearly still bothered by the issue and struggling with accuracy. In what should be a highly emotional and competitive game, I expect Notre Dame to get the win and cover against the Hurricanes and continue their march forward toward the College Football Playoff.
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