Notre Dame Football: Miami (FL) Hurricanes

Notre Dame and the ACC announced their playing dates Tuesday through 2025, which rounds out the average of five league opponents a year for the Irish for 12 years.

"The football partnership between the ACC and Notre Dame is a terrific enhancement for all parties," ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a release. "Notre Dame not only adds to our league's already highly ambitious schedules, it also provides the opportunity for almost all of our student-athletes to play against Notre Dame during their careers. When you add in the excitement that it brings to our fans, there's no question that this partnership is significant."

Dates were finalized through 2019, with opponents and sites set up for the six years after that. The full 2015 and 2016 schedules had already been announced last December, when this season's schedule -- the first of the ACC football agreement for Notre Dame -- was released.

"Nine additional seasons of games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents again adds both variety and quality to future University of Notre Dame football schedules," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a release. "Over those nine years, four ACC programs that have never played in Notre Dame Stadium (Louisville, NC State, Virginia and Virginia Tech) will come to South Bend, and two others that have only played at Notre Dame one time (Wake Forest and Clemson) also will travel to our campus.

"On the other side of the coin, during that period we will take our team to four ACC campuses at which Notre Dame never has played football (Louisville, NC State, Virginia and Virginia Tech), plus three others (Clemson, Duke and Wake Forest) where our team has played only once."

Some notes on the Irish's future schedules:
  • Notre Dame will get its shot at redemption against Florida State in four years, when the Seminoles visit South Bend on Nov. 10, 2018 -- three days shy of the 25th anniversary of the 1993 "Game of the Century" between these two. The Irish will return to Tallahassee on Sept. 6, 2021, Labor Day, before the Noles go back to Notre Dame Stadium sometime in 2024.
  • That holiday date at FSU is actually the second of two Labor Day road games for the Irish, who travel to Louisville on Sept. 2 (Labor Day) in 2019. As of now, it does not look like Notre Dame will play any Thursday night games.
  • That 2019 opener at Louisville is the first of a strenuous slate of road games for the Irish in 2019: They also go to Georgia (Sept. 21), Georgia Tech (Oct. 19) and Duke (Nov. 9). They are also expected to travel to Stanford that year, since it is an odd-number year, though no official date has been set. You can bet the Irish staff will point out this year to Peach State recruits, who will get a pair of trips back to their home state in a span of a month.
  • Notre Dame gets six ACC games in 2019 and 2023, while playing just four in 2022 and 2024. The Irish, of course, have just four ACC games this year, but will play six next season.
  • Notre Dame will play seven of the ACC's 14 teams in consecutive years: Miami in 2016 and 2017 and 2024 and 2025; NC State in 2016 and 2017; Wake Forest in 2017 and 2018; Virginia Tech in 2018 and 2019; Duke in 2019 and 2020; UNC in 2021 and 2022; Clemson in 2022 and 2023.
  • There remains no clarity on Notre Dame's Shamrock Series game -- in which it moves a home game off-site to a metropolitan area -- beyond 2016, when it faces Army in San Antonio. Next year's game against BC is at Fenway Park.
  • Not pictured in the graphic (and not-ACC related): As of this past summer, Notre Dame and Michigan State had a verbal agreement for two games in the 2020s, though they have said they may look at a single neutral-site contest.

Notebook: IMG 7v7 Championship 

June, 23, 2014
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The IMG 7v7 National Championship held at IMG Academy over the weekend featured some of the top 7-on-7 teams from all over the country and even a few teams from Canada. The event, which included 12 prospects ranked in the top 50 of the ESPN 300, showcased some of the best talent you will find in a single tournament. Led by Alabama verbal commits Calvin Ridley and Shawn Burgess-Becker, the Florida Fire from South Florida defeated Tampa’s Unsigned Preps 20-18 in the championship game to take home the title.

Quarterbacks shine

There were several high-profile quarterbacks in attendance, and they lived up to the hype for the most part. Deondre Francois, who recently transferred to IMG Academy, made numerous impressive throws. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound signal-caller has a top three of Oregon, Auburn and Florida State and is planning to make his decision at the end of July.

College coaches and recruits are always quick to proclaim their school as the best at developing certain positions. Whether it’s DBU or Linebacker U, recruits have a definite perception of which school stands out at their position.

Prospects from across the country were polled on which school has been the best at developing each position over the past 10 years. Did your school make the list?

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Scheduling talk has consumed all of college football over the last month. But for all the chatter, there are no answers when it comes to getting scheduling right.

[+] EnlargeDan Radakovich
AP Photo/Anderson Independent-Mail, Mark CrammerAs Clemson's AD and a member of the playoff committee, Dan Radakovich (left) will get a first-hand look at how important scheduling becomes.
Eight conference games vs. nine conference games. One power-five opponent or more? Everything remains a guessing game until the College Football Playoff era begins because nobody truly knows how the playoff committee will evaluate strength of schedule.

Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich, one of 13 members on the committee, said plainly, "It’s going to be the totality of the schedule. Being a conference champ is one of the top priorities as is winning the games, so there’s really not just one factor that is overwhelming the others. It’s the body of work associated with the program."

In the selection committee procedures, released earlier this month, there is a brief mention about how strength of schedule will be evaluated. The committee will be given data from SportSource Analytics, which will provide stats on every FBS team, along with opponent records and opponents' opponents' records. Unlike the basketball model, which relies heavily on RPI, the committee will not use just one data point.

That means much of this is left up to interpretation. The Pac-12, for example, finished second in the ESPN Stats & Information Conference Power rankings to end the 2014 season. The Pac-12 plays nine conference games. The ACC, on the other hand, finished fifth in the same set of power rankings. The league decided to stick with eight conference games. Does this automatically mean the Pac-12 gets a built-in advantage based on playing a conference schedule that is perceived to be more difficult?

Nobody really knows until we see the committee pick four teams based on on-field results.

What we do know is three conferences have opted for nine league games. That is a big reason why the ACC will require teams to play at least one power-five opponent in nonconference per year, beginning in 2017. Notre Dame is included in that group; BYU is not.

Will that be enough?

The Pac-12 already plays a tougher conference schedule, plus most of its teams play power-five opponents. Last season, only four teams did not have at least one power-five nonconference game. Four -- including Oregon and USC -- had two.

"It’s a wait and see," Miami athletic director Blake James said. "It will take some programs not making it to the final four and having the committee or someone come out and address that it was a scheduling issue that prevented them from being there. With that said, we all have to be cognizant of the fact that our schedules are going to be evaluated and you want to be one of the four teams. The challenge there is no one knows who is going to be the dominant program three, five, 10 years out, which is how we’re doing our schedules. You can schedule an elite program right now and by the time you play them, they might not be an elite program and vice versa. It’s a real challenge and it will be interesting to see how it plays out."

You saw examples of that throughout college football last year. Oregon had Virginia and Tennessee, power-five opponents, yes, but both teams finished with losing records. Ohio State scheduled Cal when the Bears were good, not knowing they would have a 1-11 season when the teams ended up playing. Perhaps more scheduling contracts will be broken in the playoff era, as teams jockey to get current elite teams on the slate.

[+] EnlargeNotre Dame
Matt Cashore/USA TODAY SportsACC teams get the opportunity to boost their schedules with Notre Dame.
ACC athletic directors also have the challenge of having Notre Dame on the schedule once every three years. League ADs already know when they will play Notre Dame several years down the road. So in years they play the Irish, do they add a second power-five team or take the brakes off so the schedule does not become too challenging?

"In Blacksburg, if we have Michigan and Notre Dame on the schedule, I think our fans would be fine with that," Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said.

Elite games like that are hard to find, because both parties have to be willing to play one another. That could make more scheduling challenges for everyone, especially since the Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten will have fewer nonconference spots open because they play more league games.

"The cost of guarantees continues to rise, too," James said. "You have three of the five conferences that are playing nine games so right away there are fewer games needed and geographically you want to try to stay within your area and schedule games that make sense for your fan base and alumni base. When you put all those things together it makes scheduling already challenging and I do think it will be more challenging in the future."

Given all the challenges and the uncertainty about strength of schedule during playoff evaluation time, ACC athletic directors left open the possibility that they could change their minds on scheduling. Like James said, it's wait-and-see.

"As we get through the first cycle of this new football playoff, I think it will be telling for us as to whether or not this decision is the right decision or whether we need to do something else," Florida State athletic director Stan Wilcox said. "I think we felt comfortable knowing we're not the lone conference out there, that we're comfortable being at eight."

States of strength: Texas RBs 

May, 15, 2014
When it comes to running backs, the state of Texas is loaded. Ten running backs represent the Lone Star State in the ESPN 300. Of those 10, five are committed. A total of seven running backs in the state have reported FBS commitments.

ESPN 300 RBs from the state:

No. 50 Ronald Jones II: Ranked the nation’s No. 3 running back, Jones is an explosive, game-changing back who -- as scary as it might sound -- will only get better. Jones committed to Oklahoma State on April 6 and finished his junior season with more than 2,400 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.

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As expected, Day 2 at the Under Armour All-America practices were smoother, more concise and much more productive. The players are now starting to think less and play more. Natural ability is starting to come to the forefront, which allows for them to be more productive. There have been fewer dropped passes, fewer misses by the QBs and the offensive lines are starting to jell quicker than expected. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group is there have not been any true letdowns. They have stepped up and been as advertised almost top to bottom for both squads. Let’s hit the highlights of the day:

Top performers

WR Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish): Sims might not wow anyone with his 40-yard dash time, but it may not matter. Sims is so similar to Mike Evans at Texas A&M. He just makes plays. He has extremely long arms and is outstanding when in contested matchups. The ball will look like it is uncatchable and then next thing you know he jumps out of nowhere, extends and makes a play and the defender is left scratching his head. When it comes down to it, the QBs for Team Highlight can trust that if they need to throw it up, Sims will make a play. The most basic thing about the position is catching the football and Sims has no problem doing that.

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ACC, Notre Dame announce future dates

December, 20, 2013
The ACC and Notre Dame announced future dates for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, highlighted by an Irish-Boston College matchup in 2015 at Fenway Park as part of the Shamrock Series.

The joint announcement, made Friday, is part of the scheduling agreement Notre Dame made with the ACC when it decided to join the league in all sports but football. Because of previous schedule commitments, Notre Dame will face four ACC teams in 2014. Wake Forest, initially scheduled to play Notre Dame in 2014, will now face the Irish in 2015 -- giving Notre Dame six ACC games.

Beginning in 2016, Notre Dame will play five ACC teams each year and alternate between playing three home and two away games one year, with two home and three away games the next. BC announced separately it will host Notre Dame at Alumni Stadium in 2017. Below is a look at the Irish's future ACC opponents over the next three years, with Notre Dame as the home team.


Sept. 27 at Syracuse (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.)

Oct. 11 North Carolina

Oct. 18 at Florida State

Nov. 22 Louisville


Sept. 12 at Virginia

Sept. 19 Georgia Tech

Oct. 3 at Clemson

Nov. 7 at Pitt

Nov. 14 Wake Forest

Nov. 21 Boston College (Fenway Park, Boston)


Sept. 24 Duke

Oct. 1 at Syracuse (MetLife Stadium, E. Rutherford, N.J.)

Oct. 8 at NC State

Oct. 29 Miami

Nov. 19 Virginia Tech

ACC upset watch: Week 11

November, 5, 2013
The No. 1 game on this list came to fruition last week, as Boston College knocked off Virginia Tech and snapped a five-game losing streak to the Hokies. The Upset Watch is back this week, with two ranked teams making an appearance ... and no, one of them is not Florida State:

1. No. 23 Notre Dame at Pitt -- Last year, Notre Dame was ranked No. 3 and that’s exactly how many overtimes the Irish needed to beat the Panthers, 29-26. Notre Dame trailed 20-6 in the fourth quarter -- in South Bend -- and had three turnovers. In 2011, Pitt pushed Notre Dame to the fourth quarter before losing, 15-12. Is this the season the Panthers finally break through? Pitt will have home field advantage, and the Irish are banged up defensively. Last week’s win over Navy came with a price, as linebacker Ben Councell is out for the season with a left knee injury and defensive lineman Kona Schwenke is out for Saturday's game with a high-ankle sprain. Sheldon Day aggravated a high-ankle sprain he had suffered earlier this season but may be ready to play against Pitt. The past five games in this series have been decided by an average of four points, and two of them have gone into overtime.

2. Virginia Tech at No. 11 Miami -- Both of these teams are trying to rebound from disappointing losses, and yet both still have everything to play for. The Coastal Division will be on the line when the Hokies travel to South Florida this week. Miami is the only team left in the division that can get to Charlotte by winning the rest of its remaining games. If the Hokies win, they’re right back in the race, despite back-to-back losses to Duke and Boston College. Virginia Tech has turned the ball over eight times in the past two games, but Miami will be without its top offensive player in injured running back Duke Johnson. Neither team is flawless, and both are playing with embattled quarterbacks trying to carry their respective teams on their shoulders. This is going to be a gut-check game for both programs, but Virginia Tech has more to prove. The Hokies have made improbable comebacks before. Can they do it again?
How many times have you heard fans and coaches shaking their fists at the scheduling gods whenever a new conference slate is announced?

Well, my friends, Friday's Notre Dame-ACC scheduling announcement should not be one of those times. Both the Irish and the league should be applauded for the way they handled an often maddening process to provide a win for all parties involved.

The schedules for 2014, 2015 and 2016 are perfectly balanced. Each season features one major high-profile game with national implications. Simply put, it was a wise move to have the Irish play Florida State in 2014, Clemson in 2015 and Miami Hurricanes in 2016.

Both the Seminoles and Tigers have elevated themselves back into the national spotlight and appear to be annual Top 25 programs again. Both the Irish-Noles and Irish-Canes rivalries are classics with huge national interest (even if the Miami game last season was decidedly one-sided).

In addition to those games, Louisville snagged a huge spot in Year One of the three-year rotation -- potentially adding two more Top 25 teams onto the Irish schedule from the ACC. Not a bad way for the Cardinals to start off their first year in a new league, especially with the subpar nonconference slate they have for 2013.

As for some of the games that had already been on the Irish schedule, Notre Dame was able to keep its two-game series with Syracuse intact. The Orange are actually the only one of the 14 ACC teams that will play Notre Dame twice in this three-year cycle. But, as expected, Pitt and BC will lose games previously set.

Pitt -- the ACC team that has played the Irish the most with 68 previous appearances -- remains on the schedule for 2015. That means its games against Notre Dame for 2014 and 2016 are off. Pitt will play Delaware, FIU, Akron and Iowa in nonconference in 2014.

Boston College remains on the schedule for 2015 as well. That means its game against Notre Dame scheduled for 2016 is off as well.

Folks in Pittsburgh and Boston have had time to come to terms with these expected changes as part of the ACC-Notre Dame partnership. Looking at the bigger picture, the ACC stands to benefit from what should be an overall stronger nonconference schedule -- especially since that is going to play such a large factor in the future playoff. Should Notre Dame continue what it started last season, the ACC benefits even more.

As for the Irish, their future ACC schedules are not totally daunting. On paper, 2014 looks to be the most difficult with Florida State, Louisville and North Carolina all on the slate. But the Louisville and UNC games are in South Bend. Even in 2016, both Miami and Virginia Tech play at Notre Dame.

Of course, predicting the ease or difficulty of future schedules is an exercise in the unknown, since teams change so much year-to-year. But at least today, the schedule split looks exactly right.

Notre Dame weekend rewind

October, 8, 2012
Notre Dame beat Miami by 38 points on Saturday to improve to 5-0. Here's one last look back at how the Irish got there.

The good: Everett Golson had the best game of his young career, completing 17 of 22 passes for 186 yards and rushing for 51 yards, and the Irish moved to 5-0 for the first time since 2002, when they started 8-0. Notre Dame netted 376 rushing yards, its most in a game since rushing for 380 on Nov. 11, 2000 against Boston College.

The bad: I suppose being late for a team meeting is bad when you're the starting quarterback, and that will take the starter label away from you from a technical standpoint, but there really isn't much to complain about here from Notre Dame's end Saturday night. Tommy Rees, by the way, officially improved his career record as a starter to 13-4.

The ugly: OK, we'll lay off the helmets for once. Instead, we'll turn to poor Phillip Dorsett, whom you can read about here from colleague Andrea Adelson. Miami had been working on that game-opening play all week. Instead, Notre Dame kept its five-game streak of never trailing alive, though it did surrender first-quarter points for the first time this season. The Irish have not started a season without trailing in any of its first five contests since the national title season of 1947, which did not face a deficit that year or the year before.

No rush: The Irish are one of two teams (TCU is the other) to not allow a rushing touchdown this season. They did not allow a rushing score during their final two games of 2011, so the streak is technically at seven games. Notre Dame has not gone five straight games to start a season without surrendering a rushing score since 1989.

Next up: No. 17 Stanford is coming to town. So is "College GameDay," for the first time since the infamous "Bush Push" game of 2005. Notre Dame is 3-4 all-time when hosting GameDay. The Cardinal bring in a three-game winning streak over the Irish, and they boast a signature win over USC this season. It will likely be Notre Dame's toughest test yet, though we have said that before during this season.
Here's what we learned about Notre Dame in its 41-3 thrashing of Miami.

1. The offense can be very good. We use the word "can" here because Miami, like Navy, does not have a great defense. But the Irish were dominant offensively in both of those contests, as any offense with weapons should be. Stanford will be a much tougher test next week, but putting up 40-plus points is a definite step in the right direction for Notre Dame, regardless of opponent.

[+] EnlargePrince Shembo
Matt Cashore/US PresswirePrince Shembo and the Notre Dame defense didn't allow a touchdown for the third consecutive game.
2. The defense is still very good. When I asked George Atkinson III about the offense breaking out, he was quick to remind me that the defense did not allow a touchdown. Again. It gets lost when it seems to be the norm -- especially on a night when the offense breaks out -- but three consecutive games without allowing a touchdown is incredible. The Irish, who have yet to trail in a game this season, are surrendering just 7.8 points per game.

3. Golson responds. There seemed to be uncertainty surrounding the quarterback recently, from getting yanked from the Michigan game to the chatter that he may not start. Everett Golson was late for a meeting and punished accordingly, but he was not fazed by the discipline or, this time, by the big stage. He turned in his best performance of the season, and he illustrated why, long-term, he likely will be worth the early growing pains for Notre Dame.

4. This team can be special. "Special" seems to be the buzz word around this team, but it has the formula for success down pat through five games: Don't turn the ball over, play incredible defense. The schedule gets harder, but Stanford, Oklahoma and USC look nothing like they were perceived to be entering the season. And with so many higher-ranked teams losing, the dominoes could be falling into place for Notre Dame to make a serious run at a BCS bowl game this season.

CHICAGO -- Allow Cierre Wood to explain the difference between the defense that Notre Dame faced early on Saturday night and the one he faced in the second half.

"They were all upbeat and jumping and all that stuff in the beginning," Wood said of Miami, which held the Irish to 28 rushing yards in the first quarter.

And then?

"But when you smack a team so many times in the mouth, eventually they're going to want to stop playing, and that's what happened today."

This city's official marathon does not start until 7:30 local time Sunday morning, but Notre Dame got a running head start mid-way through its convincing 41-3 win over the Hurricanes at Soldier Field, a contest in which the Irish rushed for 376 yards.

A 10-point halftime lead gave way to a 31-point advantage to start the fourth quarter, and the Irish have their ground game to thank for that. Notre Dame rushed the ball on 19 of its 21 plays in the third quarter, amassing 197 yards on the ground. Exactly 100 of those yards belonged to Wood, who eclipsed the century mark for the first time this season and for the fourth time in his career.

The returning 1,100-yard back finished the day with 118 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, and he was not even the Irish's leading rusher.

That title belonged to George Atkinson III, whose 55-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter highlighted his 123-yard day and gave the Irish two single-game 100-yard rushers for the first time in 10 years. Theo Riddick had five carries for 21 yards but sat much of the second half with a bruised elbow.

"We feed off big runs, physical runs, things of that nature," Atkinson said. "It makes us want to one-up each other."

The evening started with more quarterback drama, as Notre Dame announced that Tommy Rees would be starting in place of Everett Golson, who violated a team rule.

Rees and the Irish appeared to go three-and-out on their first drive, but a roughing-the-punter penalty gave them a re-do, and Golson was the man afterward. He, too, got in on the ground fun, breaking off several big runs that illustrated why, despite several rookie mistakes, he is the long-term answer for the Irish under center.

Coming off what coach Brian Kelly called his best week of practice, Golson rushed for 51 yards on six carries, and he completed 17 of 22 passes for 186 yards, shortly after being late for a team meeting that cost him the chance to take the game's first snap.

"I want our guys to be accountable," Kelly said. "He was accountable. He knew that he's got to do a better job of communicating. Look, he was meeting with a professor and he lost track of time, and he knows he's got to communicate with us and do a better job of that. But he took full responsibility for it, accountability for it; I thought he came in and played very well. I was proud of him today."

Said Golson: "I didn't handle it in the way I should have."

Kelly is not a big time-of-possession guy, but even he took pleasure in his team's domination of that category, with the Irish holding the ball for 39:08. Their 34 first downs were two shy of a team record.

"College GameDay" will be on the scene in South Bend next Saturday when the Irish look to improve to 6-0 against Stanford, but no one in the Irish locker room was ready to party just yet.

Yes, this is an offense that desperately needed to prove it can make plays. By not turning the ball over and netting 587 total yards against the porous Miami defense, it did jsut that, but the players are not getting ahead of themselves just yet.

"We've still got a lot of work to do," Wood said. "We had a great game today, but we're nowhere near where we want to be. We're nowhere near how good we can be. So people looking at us now, that's not really anything yet because we've still got a lot of work to do."
CHICAGO -- No. 9 Notre Dame handled Miami 41-3 on Saturday night at Soldier Field. Here is a quick look at how the Irish won.

It was over when: Notre Dame racked up 197 yards rushing and 21 points in a decisive third quarter to put the game out of reach. The Irish led 13-3 at halftime, but Miami never had a chance to get into the game in the third quarter because the Irish were so dominant on the ground. On their three scoring drives in the quarter, Notre Dame attempted a total of two passes. One of those drives went 12 plays -- and all 12 were runs.

Gameball goes to: George Atkinson III and Cierre Wood. As the Irish surpassed the 300-yard rushing mark in the game, both Atkinson and Wood went over 100 yards. It was the first time Notre Dame had two 100 yard rushers in the same game since 2002. Notre Dame ended up with season highs in first downs (34) and rushing yards (379).

Stat of the game: Notre Dame's 379-yard rushing total. The Irish had their way on the ground in this game, impressively chewing up chunks of yards while also breaking one tackle after another. This was a new low point for the Miami defense, which has played poorly all season. Miami has allowed five of its six opponents to run for more than 200 yards this season. The previous season high came on the road at Kansas State, when the Wildcats racked up 288 total rushing yards.
CHICAGO -- Greetings from a chilly Soldier Field, where temperatures are much colder than what Miami left behind in Florida.

Forty degrees colder to be exact.

Cold weather and Florida teams generally do not work well together, and temperatures are expected to hover in the upper 30s and low 40s as the game goes on tonight. That is just one intangible to keep an eye on as the Hurricanes take on No. 9 Notre Dame.

The other, of course, is what a win like this could do for Miami.

No question there remains a lot of skepticism about the Hurricanes. Though they have won back-to-back games in heart-stopping fashion, there are still plenty of flaws Notre Dame could exploit. Flaws that we saw clear as day the last time Miami played a nonconference game on the road, against Kansas State.

That game is not far from people's minds. In fact, it is a question that has been asked repeatedly this week. How do we know Miami is any better than the team that got worked at Kansas State in Week 2? Two comeback wins in ACC play are great, but those two teams are not exactly the cream of the crop in the ACC.

Beating a Top 10 team -- and Notre Dame at that -- would validate Miami. And it would make the ACC look much better than it does today. The Coastal Division is an absolute trainwreck. Virginia Tech gave up 48 points today; North Carolina is ineligible for the postseason; Virginia is a mess. That leaves Miami and Duke as the class of your Coastal.

Now back to the larger point, more than appearing to be the class of the Coastal. Miami would instantaneously elevate the ACC. Rather than talk about the misery that is the Coastal, folks would talk about Miami being "back," and just in time, with No. 3 Florida State being "back." The ACC desperately need Florida State and Miami to be good, with all their history and tradition and national championship.

And national name brand recognition.

Miami is not a perfect team. But it doesn't take a perfect team to win a game. We'll see if Miami can pass this test.

Notre Dame mailblog

October, 5, 2012
The Windy City is living up to its name.

J from Washington D.C. writes: I think it would be hilarious if Irish Chocolate was suddenly revealed to have an insanely accurate cannon arm.

Matt Fortuna: But J, Louis Nix said this week he wants to be a Wildcat-only QB! That would certainly add a new look to the Irish offense that we have yet to see, no? I don't think too many outside of the Notre Dame coaching staff would object to the idea, either.

Chuck Otis from Wilmington, Mass., writes: Can the Irish beat Miami this week? You have to admit they have played the toughest schedule so far.

Matt Fortuna: Chuck, Notre Dame can and should win, though the Hurricanes certainly have the playmakers that can make this thing interesting. Colleague Travis Haney had the Irish this week at No. 2 on his merit-based rankings. I'd have to agree with his top two choices, with Oregon State coming in at No. 1.

Mikail from Ave Maria, Fla., writes: Matt, Riddick has played well this year, but my read is that Wood has out performed him in every game that they both played (the stats back that up as well). I'm surprised that Wood isn't getting more touches - I know that there's a lot of talent at the RB position with limited space on the field, but why is our most experienced back, a 1000 yard rusher from last year, getting fewer touches when he's still more productive?

Matt Fortuna: Mikhail, I think everyone is a bit surprised Wood has not touched the ball more so far, though Riddick is more of a receiving threat. Brian Kelly said Thursday that the touches have more to do with the ground game's zone-blocking technique under new offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, as it requires the backs to be more patient in waiting for holes to open up. There should be opportunities for both to make plays Saturday night.

Brian from Portsmouth, Ohio, writes: How can people say that ND isnt in the title hunt with their schedule? They have one of the hardest schedules in college this year.

Matt Fortuna: I think it's just a matter of whether the Irish will look impressive enough to leap some of the undefeated teams ahead of them if multiple teams run the table. Alabama? Not happening, for obvious reasons. Florida State? Maybe, since the Seminoles' schedule isn't all that great. Oregon? Not a great schedule, but the Ducks do get a 13th game if they run the table, and a win in the Pac-12 title game over, say, USC for a second time, would enhance their profile. The Irish's slate looks a lot less difficult though after the season's first month, and Notre Dame is currently ranked higher than all of its opponents, each of which has already lost a game. Boston College, a road ACC game, is essentially the closest thing the Irish have remaining to a cupcake, so I think it's important to keep in mind that there really are no lay-ups here (Navy gets a pass, in an opener overseas). Bottom line, it's too early to be worrying about these types of things. Notre Dame looks like it has a chance to win every game, but it's a few miscues away from being in deep trouble, too. If the Irish win out, I'd have a hard time seeing them not in the national title game. (I also have a hard time seeing four or five BCS programs going undefeated this season.)


Irish Flips Top TE Jones, Back In Top 10
National recruiting coordinator Craig Haubert discusses the impact No. 1 tight end Alize Jones, a former UCLA commit, will have at Notre Dame.