TIM O'MALLEY - Managing EditorIn an annual summer series known as "Trouble Spots" I pegged this as Notre Dame's third easiest slot on the 2012 schedule, not because Miami was the 10th best of 12 Irish foes, but because of the advantage of a bye week, the location of the contest, Miami's perceived defensive weakness, and what I'd forecasted as a 4-0 Irish start leading up to the matchup.
Its all fallen into place as such with the added fact that Notre Dame's defense, at least its front seven, is light years better than I thought it would be. Saturday night will test the defensive secondary for the first time this season, but its the Irish fearsome foursome up front that make life miserable for Miami and ease the burden on Notre Dame's young back line.
With a full game prediction column forthcoming, Notre Dame 27 Miami 13
BRIAN DOHN - Recruiting ReporterOh, how sometimes I long for those Catholics vs. Convicts days. That said, despite the lofty ranking the nation may not be given Notre Dame the proper respect after a stellar start, but the Miami name can change that. The basis of Notre Dame's success is a suffocating defense, and although Miami's offense can be explosive, it can also make mistakes and the Irish already showed they can create turnovers. This one should not be close: Notre Dame 31, Miami 13
DAVE BERK - Recruiting AnalystThe Hurricanes have shown they can put the ball in the end zone this season but at the same time have also shown the willingness to give up a bunch of points on the other side. Some part of me worries about a letdown after a week off. This might be the first real test for the Irish secondary and I feel Miami will put some points on the board. However, I do not see them putting up enough to beat the Irish and see a hard fought game with a score of 32-20 Irish.
GAVIND - ModeratorCoaching legends Jimmy Johnson and Lou Holtz will not be trolling the sidelines for Notre Dame and Miami when the two teams clash at Soldier Field Saturday night, but let there be no doubt, there has been no love lost between the two programs and their fan bases.
Fresh off the bye week, Brian Kelly has his Irish team sitting at 4-0 for the first time since 2002 and with a top ten national ranking. Meanwhile, Al Golden and the Hurricanes sit at a surprising 4-1 behind an electric offense featuring Stephen Morris, Phillip Dorsett and Duke Johnson.
While the Irish have faced better teams this season, what Miami brings into Soldier Field represents the most daunting task the stout Irish defense has faced yet. Yes, Miami's offensive numbers have been aided by playing a slate of games that looks far less challenging than it did in the preseason, however they do have the playmakers to challenge the Irish and capitalize on any major gaffes they make.
Defensively, Miami is putrid. No other way to put it. They have the athletes to play, but right now they are so young and inexperienced that often times, they have not been able to get out of their own way! Assuming the Notre Dame coaching used the bye week wisely, I am expecting the Irish offensive line to come out prepared to open holes, communicate better than they have in weeks past, and lead the way to Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III running the ball down Miami's throat.
I see this game being much closer than most Notre Dame fans see it, but the Irish will hold on for the win. ND 24 Miami 17
MORRISSEY79 - ModeratorNotre Dame is 4-0 and carrying a lot of momentum heading into it's matchup with the Hurricanes at Soldier Field.
Brian Kelly's team has not won 5 straight since he's been at Notre Dame, but I think this is a great opportunity to do so.
Miami comes in with a high powered, lethal pass attack offense led by Stephen Morries. They've scored a lot of points to date and they've moved the ball quite well. The key difference, though, is that Miami hasn't played a front 7 like Notre Dame's yet, and the only one that was close was a 52-13 shellacking by Kansas St. Miami also hasn't played a secondary as athletic as Notre Dame's, though the Irish are a bit inexperienced and this will be their first test.
Usually when a team is on a roll nobody likes a bye week, however, I firmly believe this bye week came at a perfect time for Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin. They hopefully used the bye week to focus on improving the running game, and the continued development of the quarterback position. I expect the offense to be more efficient this week, and continue its progress towards a complete team. Notre Dame 31 Miami 24
SEATTLENDFAN - ModeratorMiami comes in with an offense used to being very successful, but when offenses used to success face adversity it can really frustrate them into unforced errors. I expect to see some of that when they line up against Notre Dame's defense. While Morris will move the ball and Duke Johnson is by far more of a threat than LeV'eon Bell or even a Borges-ized Denard Robinson, I think they will find the going hard in the red zone and the scheme will be built around forcing Miami to execute their way down the field and not give up the easy TD.
I also think a letdown after the emotional roller coaster Manti Te'o and the Irish defense have been on is inevitable, hopefully it will wear off before the first quarter is over, because one out of character 1st quarter is all it took to spot USC a 14 point lead in October 2011.
On defense Miami appears to be just what the doctor ordered for ND's offense with its fledgling QB. Of note in the Kansas State blowout of Miami, something like 5 of their TD's were run in by Collin Klein or his backup, so accounting for the QB would appear to be the Achilles heel of their defense. I expect Martin and Kelly will start out trying to move the ball without running Golson, but if the running game is struggling, this would appear to be the ideal matchup to unleash the "read" part of the read option. A defense used to giving up scads of points is likely to throw up their hands and say here we go again, hopefully the Hurricanes in 50 degree wet weather will do exactly that.
I think Miami will score two TD's on our young secondary but continue their remarkable streak of no rushing TD's allowed. Notre Dame 27 Miami 24
BNOLAN - ModeratorShort and simple: We know them, we hate them, and this go-round, we are the better, more talented team.
Soldier Field is a home game. It will be chilly. Miami will be their usual brash obnoxious selves. While I don't expect to treat them like a toilet seat like KSU did, I hope we still give them a good flush.
The obvious, like in any game - stupid mistakes change everything. Turnovers, missed assignments, dumb penalties, you know the drill.
We play solid ball, avoid foolishness, and we prevail. Is Miami dangerous? Yep. Can a fundamentally sound ND handle it? Yep.
Miami has talent. We have an offense that I'm not sold on, in terms of consistent scoring. But our defense should make the Her-icanes pay. ND 27 'Canes 17
KURZND - ModeratorTime for the Catholics vs Convicts first regular season match up since 1990. Just as a fun fact, that was THE first ND game I was ever alive for.
ND will face a tough match-up from the Miami passing attack and they have a stud RB in Duke Johnson. However ND's D will be up for the challenge. Miami faced a physical team in Kansas State and KSU whipped them. I expect ND's D-Line to control the line, pressure Morris and make Miami's running backs a non-factor. If Morris has time to throw then it could spell some trouble.
As for ND on offense, if ND can't run on Miami, then they won't run on anyone else this season. Miami has given up 30+ points to BC, Georgia Tech, and NC State. I expect ND to run on Miami and for it to help open up the passing game. Look for a big day from the Irish TEs and the RBs. I feel like ND fans will wake up Sunday and wonder, "Why were we worried?" Notre Dame 34 Miami 17