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No. 7 Miami beats turnover-prone No. 3 Notre Dame
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Critics and college football analysts had been asking for, almost demanding, a signature win for Miami before giving the undefeated Hurricanes serious consideration in the College Football Playoff conversation.
They got one here Saturday night.
The No. 7 Hurricanes (9-0) stunned No. 3 Notre Dame 41-8 before a full house of 65,303 in Hard Rock Stadium, stretching their winning streak to 14 consecutive games with a thoroughly dominating performance on both sides of the ball.
Running back Travis Homer rushed for 146 yards, quarterback Malik Rosier passed for one touchdown and rushed for another, and the defense came up with three interceptions and a fumble recovery that led to 27 points and deflated the Irish (8-2).
“Exciting tonight, obviously,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. “What a wonderful night for our fans, for our players, every single person who is a part of this program. It’s amazing what can happen when everybody works together.”
After shutting out the Irish in the first half, the Hurricanes opened the third quarter with a nine-play, 90-yard scoring drive capped by freshman running back DeeJay Dallas’ first 4-yard touchdown run of the night to go up 34-0 and pretty much squash any hopes Notre Dame may have harbored of engineering a comeback.
“It was pretty apparent to me that that drive was a backbreaker,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said.
The Irish finally broke into the scoring column on a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brandon Wimbush to tight end Alize Mack with 12 seconds remaining in the third quarter, but the Hurricanes added a fifth and final touchdown on Dallas’ second touchdown, this one with four minutes left in the game.
In addition to the interceptions, one of which cornerback Trajan Bandy returned 65 yards for a touchdown with just 22 seconds left in the first half, defensive end Jonathan Garvin forced and recovered a fumble on a sack and Miami held Notre Dame’s vaunted rushing attack (324.8 yards-per-game average) to just 109 yards and 261 overall.
The result was the largest margin of victory for Miami in the series since a 56-7 pounding of the Irish in 1985.
Notre Dame running back Josh Adams, No. 9 in the country in rushing entering the game (132.3 average), managed only 40 on 16 carries. Wimbush, Notre Dame’s second-leading rusher (79.9), netted only 24 yards on 11 runs.
Wimbush was taken out after throwing two picks in the first half, but returned when Ian Book threw a third in his brief stint. Kelly said he didn’t think the injury Wimbush sustained the previous week against Wake Forest was a factor in the junior’s struggles.
“I don’t know that the hand was really a limiting factor for him,” Kelly said. “He practiced during the week without much of an issue.”
The Hurricanes’ quickness seemingly countered the Irish’s size advantage.
“They were struggling blocking our guys,” Richt said. “We do have some quickness for sure, but we have some pretty big boys inside there, too. I thought both the offensive and defensive lines played extremely well tonight.”
Notre Dame rover Drue Tranquill gave credit to Miami “just all over the place.”
“I think they played a whole game and made plays when they needed to make plays on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side,” he said. “Credit to their fans. That was the loudest game I’ve ever played at. I think they really added an element to help them.”
Miami rushed for 237 yards, over 100 more than what the Irish had been giving up on the ground. Rosier contributed 44 of that total and also passed for 137.
“A lot of it was simple plays that we ran,” Rosier said, “and the line did a good job picking up their men.”
The win not only puts the Hurricanes firmly in the playoff picture but also capped a significant day. Earlier Virginia’s loss to Louisville clinched the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division for the Hurricanes.
NOTES: Notre Dame TE Alize Mack was cleared to play after sitting out against Wake Forest last week because of a concussion. He came into the game with 17 receptions for 154 yards in eight outings and caught two passes for 12 yards a net 12 yards after losing 2 yards on his second catch. ... With his 23-yard field goal early in the second quarter, the 73rd of his career, Miami senior PK Michael Badgley tied Carlos Huerta’s school record for field goals. He added a 30-yarder later in the period to take over the record with 74. ... Temperature at game time was 78 degrees. The temperature in South Bend, Ind., was 33 degrees.