Here are three keys for Notre Dame in Friday's Hyundai Sun Bowl game against Miami:
1. Protect Tommy Rees: Notre Dame simply must give Tommy Rees time against Allen Bailey and the talented Miami defensive front. The Hurricanes are good enough to get pressure with just their front four, but the Irish offensive line has to hold them off. This is also a big spot for running backs Cierre Wood and Robert Hughes, not just to stay in and block but to run the ball effectively enough to slow down the pass rush. Hughes' big frame was effective against USC's athletic defense and he could be a big key in this one as well.
2. Don't let Jacory Harris feel comfortable: Harris, the Miami quarterback, is an interception machine. But when he has time to sit in the pocket, he can be pretty effective. The Irish defense was outstanding down the stretch in the regular season but could have trouble getting to the quarterback around guys like mammoth tackle Seantrel Henderson. They don't need to bring the mobile Harris down, but they've got to at least get him on the move so he can help out with his erratic throws. The return of nose guard Ian Williams could provide a big boost in that regard.
3. Start fast: Miami is coming into this bowl having lost its final two regular-season games in disappointing fashion and its head coach. So if the Irish can get the jump on the Hurricanes, you'd have to question their desire to really fight back into it. Part of starting fast means not letting Miami's outstanding return game create an early score or highly-favorable field position, or allowing the 'Canes defense to get on the board with a turnover. Notre Dame played its best football in November, but its margin for error against a team this talented remains razor thin.