MIAMI GARDENS–The Miami Hurricanes dominated the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish from start to finish Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium, making their case for being placed in the top four teams in the country with the resounding victory.
“I’m really impressed with our team,” said Hurricane head coach Mark Richt after the game. Noting that he was surprised at just how sure his team’s win was over a “great” opponent.
“I never would have guessed that would happen,” Richt said of the 41-8 blowout.
It was complete domination. And in front of the crowd of over 65,000 at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday night, the Hurricanes proved many doubters in the national college football landscape wrong.
How did they do it? In the most dominant fashion. They shut down a Fighting Irish run game that was prolific coming into the game. Notre Dame running back Josh Adams was ranked first in the Football Subdivision (FBS) in yards per carry after contact, rushes for 60 plus yards and rushing yards versus ranked teams.
Saturday he rushed for 16 yards on six carries, with a long run of just five yards. All totaled, Notre Dame’s vaunted rushing attack was held to just 109 yards on the night.
Miami didn’t just stop the rushing attack, it turned Notre Dame over four times. Prior to Saturday, Notre Dame ranked fifth nationally in turnover margin, having created 19 opponent turnovers while giving the ball away only seven times. Saturday, the Canes broke out the famed “turnover chain” four times.
Hurricanes defensive coordinator Manny Diaz says his unit “took offense” to the suggestion that they couldn’t stop Notre Dame’s run game coming in. He said his players “took it personal” when hearing about all the projected first round draft picks they have and were looking to make a statement.
And the bling made tons of appearances on Saturday night. The first turnover was an interception by safety Jaquan Johnson. Add a pick six by true freshman Trajan Bandy, the second consecutive forced fumble and recovery by freshman defensive end Jonathan Garvin and an interception by Malek Young and the Canes had a turnover chain party.
Earlier in the week, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was quoted by ND Insider as calling the “turnover chain” the ‘takeaway chain’.
“They have created obviously some energy with their takeaway chain,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said on Tuesday. “I think that’s what it’s called. I hope I haven’t messed that up.
“I haven’t been paying real close attention to it, but I think they have used that collectively as a way to galvanize the group.”
Chances are he’s been brought up to speed with the proper name four turnovers later. Miami is the first FBS team to force at least four turnovers in four straight games against Power 5 opponents since at least 2004.
“Most people see we’re just having fun with it,” said Richt concerning the chain. In a week were the word “thug” was used by members of the media in relationship to Hurricane players wearing the chain, Richt made it a point to ensure that his kids were just playing football.
We’re not the first ones to come up with something like this, he said. “We just have the best one.”
Miami put up points fast and in varying ways. It began with the second possession of the game and didn’t let up. Braxton Berrios caught a seven yard post corner in the first quarter to put the Canes on the board. Miami would then push the lead to 14-0 on a Malik Rosier rushing touchdown. They got the ball back after Johnson’s interception.
After another Notre Dame punt, the Canes scored for a third consecutive time with a Michael Badgley 23 yard field goal. They would close the half with another Badgley field goal (30 yards) and the play that broke the Fighting Irish’s back, a pick six by the true freshman Bandy.
Notre Dame will have to regroup at home against Navy next week. The Canes will play Virginia at home next week at noon and likely be sporting a top-four College Football Playoff ranking. They’ll know for certain on Tuesday night.
What they do know for certain now is that they’re undefeated and coming off one of the biggest wins at Miami in over a decade. With ESPN’s College Gameday in town, a raucous home crowd and a blowout win. All week long, people are going to be asking themselves the question, is ‘The U’ back?