If you’re looking for an eye-opening victory, dominating Miami 41-3 certainly qualifies. After Hurricanes wide receiver Phillip Dorsett dropped two should-be touchdowns on the Hurricanes first drive, it was all Irish, with the defense settling into its usually suffocating self and the ground game absolutely dominating Miami’s defense.
Notre Dame dominated the yardage battle 587-285. They were clean in the turnovers column. All in all, it was as impressive and complete of a performance as you could ask for, beating a young Miami team thoroughly and opening more than a few eyeballs along the way.
A few quick snap judgments before turning the focus to Brian Kelly and his postgame comments.
Tommy Rees did end up starting at quarterback, and it didn’t really matter. As I reported earlier today, Rees started the game under center after Golson was benched for a violation of team rules. The punishment was less than a series though, as Golson took over the offense after Miami roughed punter Ben Turk, and led the Irish to victory.
After demanding a solid performance out of Golson, he delivered one. He completed 17 of 22 passes for 186 yards, while also chipping in 51 yards on the ground. As most hoped, Golson rebounded after his performance against Michigan, solidifying the quarterback position for the time being.
The Notre Dame ground game delivered in a big way. After a much needed week off, Harry Hiestand’s offensive line delivered their best performance of the year. Both Cierre Wood and George Atkinson ran for over 100 yards, and the Irish put up a staggering 376 yards on the ground (the most since beating Boston College in 2000), dominating the game while holding the ball for over 39 minutes.
Cierre Wood broke the game open on the ground, delivering a beautiful 37-yard run that set up a short touchdown. George Atkinson sealed the deal, breaking away from the Hurricanes defense for several long runs, as he went for 123 yards on just 10 carries.
After surviving an early scare, the Irish defense once again dominated. Miami tried to deliver an early knockout blow, with Stephen Morris delivering a beautiful deep ball down the field to receiver Phillip Dorsett. But Dorsett dropped the sure touchdown, and another on the same drive, and the Canes offense never survived.
It’s another game holding an opponent without a touchdown, and another dominant performance for the Irish defense. Even without sacking the quarterback, Notre Dame chased down Stephen Morris for much of the second half and shut down Miami’s run game as well, completely owning the line of scrimmage.
The Irish look like a legitimate top ten football team. Sure, they’ll have another difficult opponent next week with Stanford. But the Irish defense looks like the dominant unit BCS teams are made of. Notre Dame has now held Michigan, Michigan State, and Miami without a touchdown. That’s rock solid stuff.
Add in an impressive performance by an offense that saw its playbook expand, and the Irish continue to play their best football in a very long time.