Notre Dame vs. Miami ’17: Matchups That’ll Determine Outcome

Getting set to play their latest pivotal game of the 2017 season on Saturday night, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can take a major step forward in helping solidify a spot in the College Football Playoff with a victory. That will be a stiff challenge, even though the Irish are listed as a slight favorite in the game. The reason stems from the fact that the contest will be on the road against the Miami Hurricanes.

While Notre Dame comes into this battle with an 8-1 mark, the Hurricanes have yet to taste defeat this season after winning their first eight games. Miami’s second-year head coach, Mark Richt, began his tenure last season with a 4-4 mark, though his teams has since run off 13 straight victories and also have their eyes on a postseason playoff berth with another win.

A number of key matchups will take center stage, including these:

Josh Adams vs. Shaquille Quarterman

Adams only carried the ball five times against Wake Forest before leaving the game with what was thought to be a possible concussion. Brian Kelly later clarified that the issue was more fatigue-related, so Adams and his backfield cohorts will again look to put up some monster numbers on the ground against Miami.

Getting through any part of the Miami defense will be tough, with Quarterman representing a particularly sticky problem that needs to be solved. He made his mark as a freshman last year and has continued to provide the Hurricanes with a force in the middle that continues to work in tandem with the overall unit.

Adams has already rushed for over 1,000 yards and would boost his Heisman chances with another big game. However, Quarterman has 47 stops on the year and has also gotten to the quarterback twice in 2017. He’s arguably the most athletic linebacker that the Irish have faced this season.

Notre Dame Defense vs. Malik Rosier

Like Brandon Wimbush, Rosier is a first-year starter behind center that’s had his ups and downs, most recently in Saturday’s 28-10 win over Virginia Tech. In that game, he threw for three touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions. The 193 yards he threw for in that game marked his lowest output this season, though he has 2,264 passing yards for the year.

The Irish defense gave up 37 points in their win over Wake, with a portion of the Demon Deacons’ passing yardage coming in a more relaxed defensive atmosphere. In a game this crucial, Mike Elko’s unit can’t afford to allow an opposing signal caller to pick up easy chunks of yardage at a time.

Rosier’s interceptions against Virginia Tech were something of an aberration for him, considering he had only thrown four in the previous seven Miami games. He’s thrown for 19 touchdowns this season, though his running doesn’t match up to Wimbush’s. That means that the key here is getting pressure on him, which demands getting past a Hurricane offensive line that’s only allowed 15 sacks this year.

Notre Dame Offensive Line vs. Miami Defensive Line

Trying to pinpoint a single matchup in this area is a fruitless exercise, primarily because of the multiple weapons on the Hurricanes’ front line that can make life miserable for Wimbush and the entire offense. Miami’s managed to collect 28 sacks on the year and in the highly-charged atmosphere of this game, they’ll be revved up to add to that already-impressive total.

The offensive line for the Irish has helped open up huge holes for Adams and only allowed 13 sacks on the year. Despite those accolades, they’ll get a stiff test from a unit that’s played a key role in helping force 20 turnovers on the year. That aggressive approach has been energized by a motivating tool that’s come to be known as the Turnover Chain.

That spark and the ability of Miami’s defensive linemen to control the line of scrimmage has resulted in seven fumble recoveries and 13 interceptions during the team’s first eight games. Finding a way to keep players like Trent Harris and Chad Thomas in check requires Notre Dame linemen like Mike McGlinchey and Alex Bars to be at their best, meaning that the margin for error is virtually non-existent.

Julian Love vs. Ahmmon Richards

Realistically, Love may find himself covering Braxton Berrios, another Miami standout at a position that’s been well-represented in the NFL. That’s an indication of just how much depth the Hurricanes have, with Richards having entered the season as the centerpiece of the receiving corps.

Richards got off to a slow start, missing the first two games of this year because of hamstring trouble. While he’s only grabbed 17 passes and scored one touchdown, he gave an indication of what he’s capable in his first game back, snagging three passes for 106 yards and that one score.

Love continues to make opposing passers pay for challenging him, narrowly missing his third pick-six of this campaign against Wake Forest. Besides those highlight-worthy attributes, he remains consistent with the basics as well, with 17 pass deflections and 14 breakups. Given the array of talent on the other side of the ball, Love and the secondary need an all-hands-on-deck mentality for this game.

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  1. If Notre Dame is truly a playoff national champion contender then they will win out. They are better imo then Miami, Navy and Stanford. Of course that doesn’t mean there autmatically going to win see Ohio State vs Iowa. But ask yourself this question. If Alabama had to play Miami, Navy and Stanford would they win out. Of course they would.

  2. Here’s the thing people neglect to consider when describing Miami on defense: they literally beat up opposing QBs. I not just talking about sacks, either. Go back and watch game film, or better yet, talk to the QBs they’ve played against. They hit them hard every chance they get. And I think this may account for a lot of the turnovers. Look for the Canes to go after Wimbush early and often, whether he has the ball or not. Most of Miami turnovers happen in the 2nd half, after they’ve had a chance to tenderize the QB.

  3. How many ranked teams has Miami beaten? Is Va Tech it? ND has beaten three, all by significant margins. We are the more tested team, and are built to beat up on their weakness, which is a really mediocre run defense. Time to pound some humility into the Cane fan base, they are living a fantasy that will explode Saturda night.

  4. Notre Dame will win this game. Hands down. The Irish are getting better and better each week. Great coaching matchup ,too. I am betting on the Irish. May the best,(or luckiest) team win.

  5. What I Super detest is players hopping and pointing with ball and after they get a first down. Master Charles, we’re talking about football squads here. I didn’t know Miami had a school. Didn’t they players change their name to the “Yoo”.


  7. This game could go in a lot of different directions, and most likely will be a scoring fest, tit for tat. We just have to keep our heads and stay focused. The Irish are a more disciplined team. Canes appear to be grab-bag, all sensational. Don’t let the bling sting our eyes and come away with the Victory.

    1. Miami has 50 penalties for 509 yards in 8 games, while ND has 54 for 453 yards in 9 games. Pretty much a wash, I’d say, and not at all in line with your comment that ND is a more disciplined team. I know many — especially at ND — like to portray UM as undisciplined, but it’s a hollow argument, based solely on your elitist attitude abouthow wonderful ND is. We shall see on Saturday

    2. There will be far fewer points scored than ND vs Wake. The U defense will likely force Wimbush to more 3rd and 5+ downs than he is accustomed to. Miami’s deep passing game will be the difference. The U 27 Irish 17.

      1. So Miami will hold Notre Dame to fewer points than Georgia did when the Notre Dame offense was not nearly as strong as it is now? Sorry, not very likely. Miami is going to need to score 30+ to have a chance in this one.

    3. No doubt , this game can spin/turn in direction of team that has momentum. Irish need to overcome any adversity that comes about. And it will — starting with a hostile fan base in the Hard Rock facility. Irish have been pretty good puttin up points in the first half—gonna need that again to humble the “bling” from the get go. And let’s be real — Irish D is going to have to make crucial stops to get Irish to 9-1. Need to keep Miami QB Rosier in check with pressure and keep coverage on Braxton Berrios–their go to receiver when converting 3rd downs to keep drives alive.

    4. “Canes appear to be grab-bag, all sensational” Yeah sure until that D punches you in the mouth. That’s where the real sting comes from.

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