FEELS LIKE OLD TIMES
Mirer says Notre Dame- Miami matchup has same type of excitement as 1990
Former Notre Dame quarterback Rick Mirer was in the house last weekend in South Bend as the Irish beat up on Wake Forest. He watched them wail away with their running game, hit a few big plays through the air and take care of the football as they built a 25- point third- quarter lead.
Mirer — who was visiting son Morrison, a freshman lacrosse player at the school — has witnessed many games at his alma mater since his big- man- oncampus days. But watching the current team, an 8- 1 playoff con- tender, took the 47- year- old back to the early ’ 90s, when the Irish were 29- 7- 1 in his three seasons as a starter.
“I’m very impressed,” he said Thursday from his San Diego- area home. “It reminds me of our teams — running the ball well, not turning the ball over, not flashy. They play a style that’ll work if it’s rainy, muddy, whatever, because coming down the stretch you don’t know what you’re going to get.
“And every team’s different, but this one feels like they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. They’re quietly handling things like it used to happen in [ my] era.”
No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 7 Miami ( 7 p. m., Ch. 7, 1000- AM) — one of three matchups of top- 10 teams in Week 11 — has had Mirer reminiscing about the 1990 game, when the sixth- ranked Irish toppled the second- ranked Hurricanes 29- 20. The Irish reached No. 1 in the polls in September and again in November, but it was that October victory at Notre Dame Stadium that Mirer remembers as the high point of the season.
“The pure excitement that happened in South Bend that day, I was excited to be a part of it,” he said. “We needed that support and noise from our fans to win that game. I think it’ll be hostile down in Miami on Saturday, but our guys should be up to the task.”
We know the Irish running game, led by quarterback Brandon Wimbush, extraordinary tailback Josh Adams and one of the school’s best offensive lines in a long time, is strong enough that it ought to work anywhere, any time, against darn near anybody. Miami’s run defense — allowing nearly 200 yards per game in ACC play — isn’t particularly impressive, though the ’ Canes ( 8- 0) have given up only four touchdowns on the ground.
In what’s being billed as a playoff elimination game — even though Miami might have a chance at going 12- 1, with a perfect ACC record — Notre Dame’s defense will have to try to contain quarterback Malik Rosier and a big- play passing game. But the biggest obstacle for the three- point- favorite Irish could be playing this one away from the friendly confines of home.
“I’m pretty sure that doesn’t matter,” linebacker Nyles Morgan said.
You’ve got to like that confidence. Irish by — here’s looking at you, 1990 team — nine.
No. 1 Georgia at No. 10 Auburn ( 2: 30 p. m., Ch. 2) and No. 6 TCU at
No. 5 Oklahoma ( 7 p. m., Fox- 32) are the other two top - 10 matchups, with Georgia and Oklahoma favored by 2 ½ and 6 ½ points, respectively. It isn’t a boom- or- bust situation for the topranked Bulldogs ( 9- 0) — who almost certainly would get into the playoff with a 12- 1 record and a victory over Alabama in the SEC title game — but the Tigers, Horned Frogs and Sooners need to win Saturday in the worst way
Jordan- Hare Stadium will be on fire, potentially putting what many consider the nation’s best two- loss team over the top. But give me Georgia and its superior rushing offense
and rushing defense in this one. And give me TCU — the Big 12’ s most consistent team at the line of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball — in an outright upset.
Five other high- stakes games, rapid fire: No. 9 Washington - 6 at Stanford ( Friday, 9: 30 p. m., FS1): Will a top- 10 team go down before we even get to Saturday? Negative. Huskies’ fast, furious defense sends a message to the playoff committee. No. 2 Alabama - 14 at No. 16 Mississippi State ( 6 p. m., ESPN): The Bulldogs have lost only twice, but those were absolute blowouts against Georgia and Auburn. Will the real No. 1 team in the country please stand up? Rammer Jammer drops the hammer. Florida State + 16 at No. 4 Clemson ( 2: 30 p. m., ESPN): Have a good thought for Seminoles true freshman quarterback James Blackman, will you? This spread seems about half as big as it should be. Tigers by 32. No. 20 Iowa + 12 ½ at No. 8 Wis
consin ( 2: 30 p. m., Ch. 7): As long as the Hawkeyes aren’t as flat as a giant pork tenderloin ( it’s an Iowa thing), they should follow up on their shocking blowout of Ohio State with another strong performance. But strong enough to win at Camp Randall? Badgers in a close call.
No. 12 Michigan State + 17 at No. 13 Ohio State ( 11 a. m., Fox- 32): Word out of Columbus is that the Buckeyes are motivated like rarely before. Scary? Only a bit, considering the Spartans roll out of bed ready to rock. Buckeyes by only seven.
My favorite favorite: Arizona - 20 ½ vs. Oregon State ( 9 p. m., ESPN2). Khalil Tate is the best quarterback no one is talking about. Wildcats romp their way back into the Top 25. My favorite underdog: Arkansas + 17 ½ at No. 24 LSU ( 11 a. m., ESPN). Tigers hang on to the Golden Boot, but they’re not good enough offensively to lay such a big number to an opponent that can score in bunches.
Last week: 7- 3 straight up, 5- 4- 1 vs. the spread. . Season to date: 56- 22 straight up, 40- 37- 1 vs. the spread. Follow me on Twitter @ SLGreenberg.
Former Notre Dame quarterback Rick Mirer says beating Miami in 1990 was the high point of the season. | AP