Even as Miami stormed out of the gates to an 8-0 start, it has been questioned. The team’s No. 7 spot in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings reflected that.
The questions can stop now.
In a dominant 41-8 win Saturday night over No. 3 Notre Dame, the Hurricanes cast all doubters aside in a performance that should vault them into the top four.
Dominant could be an understatement.
Notre Dame entered Hard Rock Stadium with the fifth-best rushing attack in the country, putting up an average of 324.8 yards per game behind running back Josh Adams and quarterback Brandon Wimbush. But against the ferocious Hurricanes defense, the Irish looked overwhelmed from the jump.
Notre Dame could muster only 109 rushing yards, many of which came with the game firmly in hand, on 3.0 yards per attempt. And when Wimbush (24 yards) and Adams’ (40 yards) running lanes were clogged up, it forced Wimbush, who entered the game completing just 51.3 percent of his passes, to go to the air.
It went about as poorly as it could, and the Hurricanes were donning their now-famous turnover chain early and often.
Miami opened the scoring on its second drive when Malik Rosier connected with Braxton Berrios for a seven-yard score. The early lead ignited the crowd, and Notre Dame looked rattled. Wimbush was intercepted by Jaquan Johnson on the third play of the Irish’s ensuing drive. Two plays later, Rosier sprinted in for a 14-yard touchdown.
At 14-0 just 12:27 into regulation, the rout was already on.
In between two Notre Dame punts, Miami tacked on a field goal and then intercepted Wimbush for a second time, prompting Irish coach Brian Kelly to summon backup Ian Book.
With the Miami lead now 20-0, Book managed to move the Irish deep into Miami territory, only to throw a pick-six to Trajan Bandy just before halftime.
That defensive highlight gave the Hurricanes held a commanding 27-0 lead they would never even come close to relinquishing.
Miami opened up the second half with a nine-play, 90-yard scoring drive, and then pretty much was able to go into clock-killing mode from then on out. Led by Travis Homer’s 146 rushing yards, the Canes were easily able to bleed out an imposing victory.
Miami, which clinched an ACC championship game matchup with Clemson earlier Saturday thanks to Louisville’s win over Virginia, is now 9-0 on the year. For much of the year, Mark Richt’s crew barely eked past some lackluster opponents. Miami beat Florida State, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and North Carolina (combined record: 14-24) by a combined 18 points, leading to warranted skepticism.
There’s no doubt about it.
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