In the month of November, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish posted numbers that all fans could only dream of in the last 5 years. 3 wins, one against a then ranked Utah, one against Army and one that marked the end of 8 - sometimes humiliating - showdowns against archenemy USC. Yes - November was great for the Irish. A stout defensive stand that brought back memories of past dynasties was surely welcomed to contrast not only the beginning of the season, but also the whole Charlie Weis era at Notre Dame.
While the teams have a similar record at 7-5, the Irish played what Jeff Sagarin calls a more difficult schedule and fared better against top 30 opponent. Miami was 0-3 while ND went 2-2 against the top 30. The biggest improvement during the year was the run defense by the Irish. After having seen multiple spread variation with Purdue, Robinson and Michigan and finally getting shallacked by Navy, the Irish became much more mobile as the season went on and turned the opposition in a one dimension offense.
Jacory Harris will return at Qb for Miami. The junior that throws one interception for every touchdown will probably face the same outcome as the November opposition of Notre Dame. The running lanes will be blocked, and from that moment on, the Irish secondary will take over.
For the Irish, Crist will again be watching from the sidelines as Tommy Rees will wrap up what has been a very surprising finish for the true freshman. Theo Riddick should make a return and the vertical runner Robert Hughes should have a good game as a parting gift to college football, as a senior. Duval Kamara, who replaced Kyle Rudolph mid season at tight end is throwing a shadow on the Irish. All that Brian Kelly would volunteer is that he was not part of the travelling roster and that "he might make it to the game on his own - I don't know". I wouldn't call that a ringing endorsement on Kelly's part. There will obviously more to follow on Kamara in the days to come.
The call in Vegas is for Miami to win by 3. Putting in the fact that Randy Shannon exited early as head coach of the Hurricanes, that Harris will have to revert to a dangerous creativity with the airball and the fact that the Irish is hungry to show their new defensive prowess, I will side for the Irish at 27-20 for the win.