It's funny. A little more than a week ago I was talking about former Marine Alex Agase, who was wounded fighting on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. 65 years later the Marines are sponsoring bowl previews. That may not seem like it has a lot to do with Purdue since we're not in a bowl game, but SBNation was kind enough to extend the promotion to blogs without teams in bowl games. We were given a free pass to pick our bowl of choice to write about too.
Since I am married to a die hard Hurricane fan and they happen to be playing Our Lady of Perpetual Arrogance in Notre Dame, I have chosen to do a Sun Bowl preview. This isn't your best bowl game out there. It is a pair of 7-5 teams that underachieved. Miami was expected to win the ACC, but stumbled when Jacory Harris threw too many interceptions. They have now fired their coach and will play the Sun Bowl with a "one night only" mentality under Jeff Stoutland.
The other big storyline is the revival of this rivalry that has been dormant for 20 years. Hurricane Sports is running a series of greatest games in the rivalry. Personally, I can't wait until they get to Miami's 58-7 win in 1985 which can be summed up as follows from a Notre Dame perspective:
You Can't do that. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH. We're Notre Dame. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH Poor Gerry Faust, it's his last game. WAAAAAAAAHHHHH " - Every Notre Dame on Miami's 1985 58-7 win over the Irish.
That was at least a pretty close summation of the thoughts immediately after that game. The rivalry itself was last played on October 20, 1990 when Notre Dame beat Miami 29-20 in South Bend. The two games before that were quite memorable. Miami won 27-10 in 1989 to break a 23-game Irish winning streak and set themselves up for another National title. It would have been three titles in a row if not for Notre Dame's 31-30 win in 1988 that cost the Hurricanes a shot at the title.
Both teams come into this game hobbled at the quarterback position. The Fighting Irish have already lost Dayne Crist for the year and Tommy Rees has taken over with decent results. Jacory Harris started the season for Miami, but a concussion suffered on a vicious hit at Virginia threw true freshman Stephen Morris under center. Both players have shown a lot of promise, but Rees has the better numbers with 10 touchdown passes on the year. Harris will also likely be healthy for the Bowl game, so don't be surprised if the Hurricanes go with his experience.
Each team has an excellent go-to receiver as well. Michael Floyd has 916 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns, while Leonard Hankerson has over 1,000 yards receiving and 12 scores. Offensively, Miami's run game might be the difference though. The Hurricanes have Damien Berry (865 yards, 5 TD), Lamar Miller (633, 6 TD), Mike James (384, 3 TD), Graig Cooper (165, 1 TD) and Storm Johnson as solid running backs. Tragically, Mike James' mother was killed in a car accident last week, so he will be playing with a heavy heart.
Defensively, Miami has the better team, giving up only about 19 points per game. Unfortunately, the offense has done them no favors with numerous penalties and 23 interceptions. Notre Dame ranks 96th in rushing, so the Hurricanes must prepare for the pass. The Fighting Irish have taken much better care of the football, however.
It looks like Miami should be able to handle this game well. The recent coaching change and their inability to hold on to the football gives me doubts as to their ability to win the game. There is a reason Miami is 7-5 when, on talent, they should have breezed through the ACC. There is a reason they lost to Ohio State in a game that was much closer than the final score. They cannot keep from shooting themselves in the foot. If they can ever put it together while eliminating their own mistakes this will be a solid football team. There has been no evidence of that this year, however, so look for Notre Dame to keep it very close.
At the very least, it is an excuse to grow a mullet, buy a Trans Am, and pretend it is the 80s once again (or, if you're a typical Notre Dame fan, don't change anything). For Canes fans, if we're going to play into stereotypes (and I want to be fair) they can hope the border to Juarez and update their contacts for "illicit substances".For me, I'll be watching ESPN's 30 for 30: The U in preparation.