Notre Dame fine to the finish
By Mark Potash firstname.lastname@example.org
Notre Dame 14 13 3 3 — 33 Miami 0 3 0 14 — 17
Miami 0 3 0 14 — 17
TEAM STATISTICS ND Mia
First downs 23 20
Rushes-yards 48-196 24-103
Passing 201 319
Comp-Att-Int 15-29-0 26-40-4
Return Yards 18 0
Punts-Avg. 4-39.8 4-40.8
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 3-20 10-106
Time of Possession 37:09 22:51
RUSHING—Notre Dame, C.Wood 12-81, Hughes 27-81, Riddick 8-32, Rees 1-2. Miami, Berry 9-34, Morris 4-22, S.Johnson 2-20, James 4-14, Miller 5-13.
PASSING—Notre Dame, Rees 15-29-0-201. Miami, Morris 22-33-1-282, J.Harris 4-7-3-37.
RECEIVING—Notre Dame, Floyd 6-109, Eifert 4-31, Goodman 1-30, Jones 1-19, Hughes 1-8, Riddick 1-2, C.Wood 1-2. Miami, Hankerson 6-71, Byrd 4-47, James 4-14, Benjamin 3-44, Ford 2-37, Miller 2-32, Streeter 1-42, Cleveland 1-15, S.Johnson 1-9, Berry 1-4, Gordon 1-4.
EL PASO, Texas — Notre Dame was ready.
Tommy Rees was ready.
Harrison Smith was ready.
Michael Floyd was NFL-ready.
A lot of Irish players were in midseason form in the 34-degree chill at the Sun Bowl on Friday. But it was Floyd’s two first-quarter touchdowns in an MVP performance that sparked Notre Dame to a 33-17 victory over Miami (Fla.).
Playing perhaps his final game at Notre Dame, the 6-3, 227-pound junior had six receptions for 109 yards — including a 36-yard catch on third-and-16 and touchdowns of three and 34 yards that gave Notre Dame a 14-0 lead with 4:35 left in the third quarter. Floyd became the school’s career leader in touchdown catches with 28, surpassing Jeff Samardzija’s 27.
‘‘Our offense starts with Michael and our ability to get him the football,’’ Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. ‘‘When we get him the football, it opens up so many things within our offense.’’
Floyd was stifled by tough defense, but he also had opportunities for more slip though his fingers, including a third-quarter pass in the end zone that he got a hand on but couldn’t corral.
‘‘I should have had four [touchdowns],’’ said Floyd, who didn’t play most of the fourth quarter because of a sore hamstring. ‘‘All four [Miami] DBs are great. They gave me a lot of press coverage, trying to re-route me, but we just took advantage of it. When they gave us one-on-one coverage, Tommy made a good throw and we got the job done.’’
The big question is not how much Notre Dame will miss Floyd, but how soon. He’s expected to go to the NFL next season.
‘‘He’s given everything he has at Notre Dame,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘If he decides to come back, we’ll be very very happy for him. But we want what’s best for Mike Floyd. Today he showed why he’s a championship football player.’’
Floyd’s early flurry sparked a dominant effort by Notre Dame (8-5), which had four interceptions in the first half — including a Sun Bowl record-tying three by safety Harrison Smith — in taking a 27-3 lead.
‘‘We felt like getting off to a great start was very important,’’ Kelly said ‘‘Offensively and defensively, we played a complete game, especially in the first half. It was going to come down to our quarterback’s ability to make some plays and get the ball to our playmakers, and Tommy did a great job.
‘‘And our guys, they prepared so well for this game. It was not like other bowl games I’ve prepared for where you have to push your guys to practice. These guys wanted to win this game, and it showed the way they played in the first half.’’
Cierre Wood (12 carries, 81 yards) scored on a 34-yard touchdown run, Robert Blanton had an interception and Rees was 15-for-29 for 201 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions as Notre Dame finished Kelly’s first season with four consecutive victories.
‘‘We have more things that we have to get done,’’ Kelly said, ‘‘especially know that we’ll have our players for a full year of weight training and conditioning. I think you’re going to see a huge difference in Year 2.’’