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Irish-Miami resume rivalry, a bit early

Published December 30. 2010 05:00PM

Notre Dame and Miami were not scheduled to resume their rivalry until Oct. 6, of 2012, but thanks to a match up in the Hyundai Sun Bow on Friday the two teams are getting an early look at each other. The Irish and Miami 2012 game is a "home" game for ND but will be played at Soldiers Field in Chicago.

The Sun Bowl is in El Paso at the 50,426 seat Sun Bowl stadium. The matchup must have been a eagerly awaited one for fans of both teams because the game soldout in about 21 hours, the fastest sellout in the history of the game.

It will be the first meeting of the two schools in 20 years. The schools decided to end the series because it got so heated and nasty. In fact, the series was referred to the Catholics vs. the Convicts. T-shirts with that on them were hot sellers. In fact, I'm told they are for sale again on ebay for $20 per shirt.

The game will be the 24th between the schools. In the early years ND completely dominated the series, but then Miami's program emerged as a national power and that was when things got nasty.

After the Chicago game the two schools will play home-and-home matchups 2016 at Notre Dame and in 2017 at Miami.

Sun Bowl reps wanted ND badlly for the game. Then being able to match Miami with the Irish made the game much more attractive as demonstrated by the quick sellout.

Both teams enter at 7-5 and both coming off what their fans considered were disappointing seasons. Many felt the Irish could win nine games this year. Coach Brian Kelly and staff faced a lot of problems both on and off the field this season. Many injuries, the death of a student video-taping a practice, and an allegation of sexual misconduct by an unnamed Irish player all happened during the year. The last item ended on Dec. 16 when Indiana prosecutors said no charges will be filed after investigating the matter.

Miami was expected to win the Atlantic Coast Conference but didn't. It also loss a one-side game to in-state rival Florida State, 54-17, was upset by Virginia and loss to eventual ACC champ Virginia Tech. The last regular season loss to South Florida, 23-20, in overtime cost head coach Randy Shannon his job.

The Hurricans will be coached in the bowl game by interim head coach Jeff Stoutland, who was Shannon's offensive line coach. Stoutland wanted the head job but didn't get it. On Dec. 13 Miami named Al Golden, the Temple coach, as the new head man. Golden has rebuilt the Temple program and Miami hopes he can bring the Hurricanes back to the national spotlight.

Stoutland is no stranger to ND. He coached for seven seasons at Michigan State before joining Shannon's staff four years ago.

Miami made it as high of 12th in the AP poll during the season but then loss those key games.

This is the second bowl appearance for the Irish in the last three seasons. ND played two years ago in a bowl beating Hawaii.

ND leads the series, 15-7-1, with the Irish winning two of the last three meetings, both wins at ND stadium. In games played in Miami the teams split at 6-6-1. The two teams also played in 1979 in Tokyo, Japan, where the Irish won, 40-15.

This will be ND's 30th bowl appearance and first in the Sun Bowl. The Irish are 14-15 in bowl games and lost nine straight before beating Hawaii in 2008.

Miami is making its 36th bowl appearance and has a 19-16 record.

ND will be the visistors in the game. The game will be televised nationally by CBS-TV with a 2:30 p.m. EST kickoff.

IRISH NOTES:This season Notre Dame has played more bowl-eligible teams (11) than anyone else in the country. ND's 2010 schedule is ranked No. 1 by the NCAA stength-of-schedule standings its highest since a No. 1 ranking in 1995. The current .650 winning percentage of Irish opponents makes for its strongest scheduled faced in 21 years, since a .655 percentage when ND finished No. 1 in the toughest-schedule category in 1989.....ND has a long history of playing tough schedules. Since 1977, when the NCAA started ranking teams by schedule, ND has been first in 1978, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1995 and 2010....Kelly is 13-5 in post-season games. This includes an 11-4 record in NCAA Division II playoffs....The Irish will have sophomore wide receiver Theo Riddick back for the game. Riddick has been out of the lineup since mid-October with an ankle injury. He has been practicing at full strength for the game. He will be a very welcome addition to the Irish passing attack. Despite missing half the season Riddick is the second-leading receiver with 39 catches and 412 yards for three TDs.....Backup junior safety Dan McCarthy and backup sophomore nose guard Tyler Stockton recently underwent shoulder surgery and both will miss the game...Linebacker Manti Te'o had surgery this month to repair his broken nose he suffered on Nov. 20 against Army....Kicker David Ruffer, who is 20-for-20 for his career in field goals, said he would return for a fifth year if Kelly offers him a scholarship. Ruffer is a walkon after transferring from William & Mary after his freshman year. He has been a walkon for the past three years....ND has picked up two more recruits. Quarterback Everett Golson and defensive back Bennett Okotcha. ND currently has 19 commitments, after losing four earlier this year. Official signing day is Feb. 2, 2011....Two ND recruits were among the standouts in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas played Saturay, Dec. 18, in Spartansburg, S.C. QB Everett Golson was named the most impressive QB. He completed nine of 15 passes for 79 yards and a TD without any turnovers. Defensive end Ben Councell, on the losing side, made 13 tackles, and one sack in the game and also blocked a punt.....Nose guard Ian Williams is back at full strength at practices for the bowl game. That is a plus for the improving defense....This matchup could end up a shootout since both teams can score. The Hurricanes are favored by three, but the Irish defense has come around in the last three games making me think that the Irish can win this one. Most rate it a tossup and it is. My pick is the Irish.

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