On Saturday November 11th, The 8-1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (#3 in the CFP rankings) will travel to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami and play the #7 Miami Hurricanes (8-0) for a chance to secure a spot in the College Football Playoffs in January. This game, bearing obvious playoff implications for these teams, harkens back to a decades old rivalry that has usually resulted in the winner going on to compete for a National Championship. There is a lot of bad blood between these teams, and this game should come down to the wire. Two hard-nosed defenses, a couple of very experienced coaches, and the possibilities for an instant classic ? Count me in.
I personally hate the title "Catholics vs. Convicts" that has come to represent this rivalry series due to its obvious racial overtones. I hate the history behind that title and the blatant media bias towards the "Catholics" and the vilification of the "Convicts". I can't change history, and I can't change how the media perceives certain ethnicities.
The rivalry originated in the 80s during the years of Miami's dominance under head coach Jimmy Johnson; Miami grew to become a national powerhouse, competing nationally with schools like Oklahoma, Nebraska, Penn St., and, of course, Notre Dame. Because this school of majority minority student-athletes, who happened to listen to rap music and dance after every big play, challenged the notoriously Irish Catholic tradition that is the University of Notre Dame, the media had a field day labeling the U as the "Convicts" opposing their darling "Catholics".
The teams had lots of success throughout the years, resulting in national championships, bowl game wins, and Hall of Fame careers for players and coaches on both sides. Both teams have had amazing highs, years of horrible lows, and now, a sudden resurgence in the national spotlight. Below, I'll break down each team's successes and how they've managed to get to this point of the season.
The Turnover Chain
The popular saying goes: "The U invented Swagger." While that phrase became popular due to the dynasties of the 80s and the early 2000s, it has started to gain new life with head coach Mark Richt's current team of Hurricanes. With the the offense making big plays downfield and the defense flying around, making big hits and forcing turnovers, the U is regaining its swagger from years past. One way the defense is causing excitement around the nation is with the now famous turnover chain. Whenever a defender forces a turnover, the lucky player gets the gold turnover chain, emblazoned with a diamond encrusted "U". The turnover chain has the defense extra motivated to finish every play, and since defense wins championships, the U is willing to bet on their turnover chain to continue making magic for their suddenly dominate defensive squad.
Those Golden Helmets
Notre Dame has had a history of hard running on offense and tough front seven play on defense, and they are exemplifying that this season. Josh Adams is headlining a dangerous backfield that is averaging over 300 yards on the ground per game, resulting in hard fought physical wins and only one loss to the #1 team in the nation, the University of Georgia. Notre Dame has relied on that running game and a sneaky good defense to get them in position to win games, and head coach Brian Kelly is hoping this squad can help him keep his job. With only Miami and Stanford left on the schedule, Notre Dame is hoping their formula for winning will get them back into the national spotlight for the long run.
The Prediction and College Football Playoff Aspirations
This game is going to come down to Miami's run defense slowing down Notre Dame's rushing attack. With Miami's defense allowing little more than 17 points a game, Notre Dame's going to have to rely on it's dubious passing attack to gain valuable yards and get some points. On the other side of the ball, Miami's got a young quarterback leading their offense, but he's played well in primetime so far this season; Notre Dame's defense is allowing only 18 points a game, and the Hurricane offense is going to need to string together more first downs and big plays to get through that physical Fighting Irish front seven.
In a hard-fought game, highlighted by tough defensive stands and five total turnovers, I see Miami coming out on top, final score 27-17. The defense hands out the turnover chain to key stars in the linebacker unit and secondary after they force 3 turnovers, including a pick 6 by the high-flying defensive backs, and Miami gets to celebrate in South Beach with a top 5 ranking in the next installment of the CFP rankings.
Everything you need to know about the yay.