NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (8-1)
at MIAMI HURRICANES (8-0)
Hard Rock Stadium – Miami Gardens, FL
Kickoff: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Notre Dame -3.5, Total: 57.5
It's Catholics vs. Convicts, with real playoff implications on the line.
Both playing against strong ACC opponents last week, neither Notre Dame nor Miami could afford to look ahead to their matchup this week. And, it seems, neither team did so. The Irish faced some injury scares while hosting Wake Forest, as QB Brandon Wimbush went down for a period and star RB Josh Adams only played one quarter. But the offense was entirely unencumbered, posting at least 48 points for the fifth time this season and rushing for 380 yards in a 48-37 win over the Demon Deacons (WF +14.5). While the defense was uncharacteristically porous, the Irish survived to win their seventh straight game and improve to 8-1 on the year (7-2 ATS). Miami had an even tougher opponent in a visiting Virginia Tech team, but the Canes looked in control for the duration of their 28-10 win (MIA -1.5), easily their most impressive triumph to date. Miami is now one of only four undefeated Power Five teams at 8-0 (4-4 ATS). Since 1992, road favorites averaging at least 440 yards per game and coming off a game in which they allowed at least 6.25 yards per play (ND) are 25-60 ATS against teams allowing between 330 and 390 points per game. On the other hand, over the last five seasons, home underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points playing their second straight home game (MIA) are 11-34 ATS in Weeks 10 through 13. Adams is listed as probable for Saturday night's showdown between the two teams, while complementary RB Dexter Williams is questionable with an injury of his own.
Wimbush seems to improve with each passing week, and he has developed into one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. His 280 passing yards against Wake were easily his most of the season, and his 110 yards (and two touchdowns) on the ground marked his fourth game this year with 100+ rushing yards. While not helming a particularly explosive pass offense, he has taken great care of the ball with only two interceptions on the season--he hasn't thrown one since September 16th at Boston College. He has 11 passing touchdowns this season. Backup QB Ian Book was 8-for-8 passing in spelling Wimbush against Wake, and showed similar running ability with a 43-yard run. Adams is still eyeing an invite to the Heisman ceremony in NYC despite having basically missed the Wake Forest game. He's ninth in the country with 1,191 rushing yards and third at 8.7 yards per carry. A week prior to sustaining the injury, he went for 202 yards on the ground against NC State—not a season high, tellingly. Along with Wimbush, RBs Deon McIntosh and Tony Jones Jr. picked up the slack on the ground against the Deacons, each scoring a touchdown and gaining 63 and 59 yards, respectively. Williams took three carries for 33 yards. Considered an All-American candidate before the year, WR Equanimeous St. Brown has taken a backseat in this run-heavy offense. He's the team's second-leading receiver (22 catches, 289 yards, 3 TDs) behind WR Chase Claypool (25 catches, 354 yards, 2 TDs). Claypool passed him with 180 receiving yards against Wake—his previous high this year was 56.
RB Mark Walton was the prospective centerpiece of the Miami offense entering the year, but he sustained a season-ending injury about a month ago. While his presence is certainly missed, the Hurricanes have been doing just fine without him. With 462 yards per game of total offense, they're second in the ACC. The strength of the unit is now the passing game. QB Malik Rosier has been solid, having thrown 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and averaging 8.3 yards per attempt (third in ACC). Three of those interceptions were against Virginia Tech last week, which is concerning as Miami enters a game against a (usually) strong Notre Dame defense. He was fortunate the Canes defense forced four takeaways of its own. He had his best running game of the year against Tech, running 13 times for 84 yards and a touchdown. RB Travis Homer has become the feature back in Walton's absence, and he's been great behind a strong offensive line. It only took him 14 carries to get 95 yards and a touchdown against Virginia Tech, his third time in four games getting at least as many yards. He also had a 20-yard reception. Star WR Ahmmon Richards has struggled through a season filled with unfortunate injuries, but has contributed more in recent weeks. WR Braxton Berrios and TE Christopher Herndon IV have both stepped up to become excellent primary options for Rosier, and each had a touchdown reception against the Hokies.