Two teams whose seasons seem to be spinning out of control meet in South Bend on Saturday. The Miami Hurricanes visit the Golden Dome for the first time since 1990, yet the stature of this Notre Dame Miami football game has cooled. Below are seven numbers to think about for this game:
This number represents where Miami is situated among all 128 FBS teams when it comes to converting red zone opportunities. Among 30 different opportunities, they’ve only come away with points 23 times. Still, the Notre Dame defense has to remain aware of Miami’s big-play capability, with three different running backs having scored on touchdown runs of 60 yards or more.
After feasting on the non-conference portion of their schedule, the Canes have found life in the ACC difficult in 2016. In their three consecutive defeats, the Miami defense has allowed an average of 464 yards per contest. Those numbers are similar to what the Notre Dame defense has given up this year, so DeShone Kizer and Company could have a productive afternoon in this Notre Dame Miami 2016 battle.
The Hurricanes have relied on their passing game much more in October. In four games this month, they’ve thrown for 1,002 yards, compared to just 357 rushing yards. Those numbers contrast with their earlier clashes in which the numbers were much more balanced. Like most teams, the Canes figure to attack the porous Irish pass defense on Saturday.
Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya has thrown for 1,696 yards in seven games, yet he’s not a signal caller that will just throw the ball up for grabs. He’s connected on 61.7 percent of his passes, primarily because his questionable arm strength effectively forces him to depend on short and medium-range passes. That may mean that he ends up picking the Irish defense apart unless some rapid advancement in coverages takes place.
Pounding the ball against the Hurricane run defense has been a successful strategy for ACC teams, who have averaged 212 yards on the ground in four games this year. The Irish running game has struggled this season, so this may be an opportunity to jumpstart this specific area or, at the very least, burn some time off the clock.
The Hurricanes gave up 37 points to Virginia Tech in their October 20 loss, yet their defense stands alone in one category. Miami is the top-ranked FBS team when it comes to tackles-for-loss, collecting 71 in seven games. In truth, 40 of those stops behind the line came in three easy non-conference tilts, but they’ve managed to collect 17 in the last two weeks. That means the Notre Dame offensive line better be on high alert throughout the contest.
Converting on third down has been a particular problem for the Notre Dame offense in 2016, something they slightly have in common with the Hurricanes. In Miami’s three defeats, they’ve only been able to achieve success on third down 26 percent of the time. That’s in comparison to the 45 percent they garnered in their four wins, which means clutch play in this area could put the Irish in the win column.
The Bottom Line
Desperation is in the air for both teams, which could play a role in how the respective game plans are designed. No matter how they do it, another loss in this Notre Dame Miami 2016 clash will very likely keep the Irish out of the bowl picture.