No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 7 Miami soaring into their matchup
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The rivalry between Miami and Notre Dame is as well-chronicled as perhaps any in college football. Catholics vs. Convicts. Pregame brawling. Postgame insults.
Thing is, all of that happened a generation ago.
So wake up the echoes. Flash the turnover chain.
It’s Miami-Notre Dame week — and a chance to update those history books. No. 3 Notre Dame (8-1, No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings) will visit No. 7 Miami (8-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 10 CFP) on Saturday night, the first time in more than a quarter-century the teams will meet with both being full-fledged national title contenders.
“It’s incredible to be this close, to put ourselves in this situation, in this position,” Miami wide receiver Braxton Berrios said. “We control our own destiny, and that’s all we can ask for.”
Notre Dame has its highest AP Top 25 ranking since 2012, while Miami has matched its highest ranking since 2005. The Hurricanes easily topped Virginia Tech 28-10 on Saturday, and the Fighting Irish racked up 710 yards in their 48-37 win over Wake Forest — a victory that left Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush wanting more.
“We didn’t dominate our opponent and we’ll go back and evaluate the film,” Wimbush said. “I think next week when we head down to Miami it will be the same outcome, with a ‘W’ — but a more dominant and convincing way.”
That sure sounded like a prediction. Just like old times, there’s some swagger on both sides.
Miami’s is most apparent by the turnover chain — the gaudy gold necklace with a massive “U″ pendant, a prize immediately handed out in a raucous sideline ceremony to any defensive player who comes up with a takeaway. It began as an internal motivation ploy only to become a piece of marketing genius for Miami.
“People are starting to get excited about the ’Canes,” Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said.
Miami fans should be excited. So should Notre Dame fans. Both teams earned their way into the spotlight.
Notre Dame was unranked coming into the season , unranked again after losing to Georgia and didn’t even crack the Top 10 until two weeks ago . Miami has the longest current FBS winning streak at 13 games, survived a four-week flurry of nail-biters to keep that streak afloat and took control of the ACC Coastal race by beating Virginia Tech.
Miami’s last loss was more than a year ago — and the team that beat the Hurricanes was none other than Notre Dame.
“It’s going to be a great matchup,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said.
Think of it as a national quarterfinal — sort of. Saturday’s winner obviously will not clinch a spot in the four-team playoff that will decide the national title, but the loser could easily see its championship hopes vanish.
The stakes are high, and Miami and Notre Dame know what that’s like.
They met in four straight seasons — 1987 through 1990 — and both teams were in the Top 10 all four times. They entered those four games with combined 54-5 records. Miami won the game and went on to claim national championships in 1987 and 1989; Notre Dame won the game and eventually the national title in 1988, the infamous Catholics vs. Convicts game that was preceded by a fight in the tunnel leading to the field.
Here they go again. Notre Dame is 18-7-1 against Miami, winning the last four matchups including a 30-27 decision last year.
“Two programs that have great traditions, that have won national championships,” Kelly said. “You would think sooner or later they’re going to meet again with something that’s on the line. We’re excited that we’re back in that position for our university.”
So on a Saturday when there will be seven matchups between teams that are both in the AP Top 25 — including No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Georgia and No. 3 Notre Dame all being on the road — there may be no bigger game in America than this one.
“We’re not done yet,” Berrios said. “We’re not content. We’re not satisfied. And there’s a long way to go.”