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Instant analysis: Notre Dame 33, Miami 17

12/31/2010

Here’s a quick look at Miami’s 33-17 loss to Notre Dame in the Hyundai Sun Bowl:

How the game was won: It was lost, rather, in the first half, when Miami’s mistakes mounted quickly. There were penalties, dropped passes, and most costly, four turnovers. Miami quarterback Jacory Harris threw three interceptions in the first half before being benched in favor of Stephen Morris, who added another interception. The Canes headed to the locker room trailing 27-3, and while they didn’t give up, they took too long to show up.

Stat of the game: Miami’s quarterbacks combined to throw eight completions and four interceptions in the first half.

Player of the game: Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees. He completed 16 of 30 passes for 195 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Unsung hero of the game: Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith. He had three interceptions, all in the second quarter, that set the tone for the game in favor of the Irish. He returned one for 16 yards that led to a Notre Dame touchdown on the ensuing possession for 21-0 lead. His third pick led to a field goal and a 24-0 lead.

What Miami learned: When you have two quarterbacks you don’t have one. The position should be a concern for Al Golden in his first season and a priority in recruiting. That wasn’t the only problem for Miami, though. The Canes couldn’t get their running game going, they had eight penalties, and it was clear they didn’t want to be there. Golden has his work cut out for him, starting with a decision about his quarterback situation.

What it means: Instead of letting Miami’s coaching transition and other obstacles in the past month bring them closer together for an inspiring performance, the Canes let it all deflate them, and the result was a flat performance in which Miami was outplayed in the first half. Instead of handing the keys to the program to Al Golden with some momentum, it now seems like Golden has to start from scratch, beginning with building some morale and confidence in a program desperately in need of both.