Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Basics: Notre Dame (7-5) vs. Miami (7-5), 2pm EST, CBS
Why You Should Watch: This is a pretty interesting matchup, not just for the teams playing in it, but because of the history between these two schools. It's not quite the Catholics vs. Convicts matchups of the late 80s and early 90s, as neither team has been all that successful the last few years, but a win in this game could be another step on the path back to the top of the polls. Plus it's on CBS!
Keys to Victory for Notre Dame: Ever since Dayne Crist went down during a loss against Tulsa, Tommy Rees has stepped in and played well, and the Irish haven't lost since. Sure, Rees hasn't exactly been tearing it up in Crist's absence, but he's been managing the offense extremely well for a freshman, and the Irish have also seen their running game get going.
In order to beat Miami, the Irish will have to keep that formula going. It was good enough to beat Utah and USC, and it could work against Miami as well. The key will be for the offensive line to give Rees time, as the Miami pass rush will be better than any he has faced thus far.
Still, as well as Rees has played, the real reason Notre Dame has won its last three games has been the play of the defense. The Irish have only allowed 22 points over those three games, and if they can pressure Jacory Harris it's only a matter of time before he makes a mistake.
Keys to Victory for Miami: Miami has the talent edge in this matchup. The question is what the team's motivations will be. The Hurricanes are playing for an interim coach in Jeff Stoutland, and you really have to wonder how badly they even want to play this game, or if they'd rather just move on.
We know that Jacory Harris will come to play as this is his last chance to redeem what's been a terrible 2010 season. Still, that could work against Miami. Harris' biggest problem has always been his patience, and it will be key for him to not try and do too much. Just take what the Irish defense gives him, and move the ball down the field.
On defense, the key will be to get to Rees. Pressure him into making mistakes, and keep the running game in check. If Miami can do this, and the offense limits mistakes and turnovers, then there's no reason that Miami can't win this game.
The Sun Bowl is like: that fight between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson, the rematch, in 1997. Yes, Holyfield was still the champion at the time, but neither fighter was the same as the ones we'd seen earlier in their careers. Still, a win in this game, much like that title fight, would help bring some legitimacy back to either program. I just hope that nobody bites anybody's ear off.