The No. 9-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-0) defeated the Miami Hurricanes (4-2) in a 41-3 blowout Saturday night at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The Hurricanes forced Notre Dame into a three-and-out to begin the game, but a roughing the kicker call on the ensuing punt gave the Irish new life. They marched down the field and scored as Everett Golson took over for Tommy Rees, and Golson took it from there.
For the Hurricanes, they were able to move the ball but couldn’t connect on the big-play opportunities that presented themselves.
Miami wide receiver Phillip Dorsett had an up-and-down first half. He was open deep twice downfield but was unable to haul in the bombs from quarterback Stephen Morris. In the second quarter, he had another deep throw fall through his hands inside the Irish’s 10-yard line.
The second half saw much of the same stifling defense from the Irish. Miami, which was averaging 35.6 points per game, was held to just three points as the Hurricanes were dominated in every aspect of the game by the Irish.
After marching down the field and scoring on its first second-half possession, Notre Dame went into ground-and-pound mode. The next Irish possession—a 12-play, 82-yard touchdown drive—consisted of zero passes and was a demonstration of the Irish domination along the offensive line of scrimmage.
They continued to relentlessly pound the football until the clock ticked zero, riding their dominant offensive line and stout defense to a rout of the Hurricanes.
ESPN Stats & Info pointed out pregame that the Irish have not yet trailed in 2012. Wow!
What's the only team that hasnt trailed yet this season? Your Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Can 'Canes take a lead? Find out, 7:30 ET.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 6, 2012
Alex Flanagan of NBC tweeted prior to kickoff that Tommy Rees would get the start after a violation of team rules by Everett Golson.
Notre Dame qb Tommy Rees will start tonight against Miami. Everett Golson benched after a violation of team rules.— ND Sideline (@NDSideline) October 6, 2012
However, she followed that by saying head coach Brian Kelly said he would be rotating the two quarterbacks.
ESPN polled its followers and posted a picture of the new Irish lids.
SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 7, 2012
Irish Illustrated of Rivals.com tweeted that TE Tyler Eifert’s first catch of the game gave him 100 career receptions for the Irish. That tied him for third in Irish history for a tight end (he moved into second place in the second quarter with his 101st grab).
Tyler Eifert's catch is his 100th for his career, ties him with John Carlson for second on the career list (for tight ends).— Irish Illustrated (@NDatRivals) October 7, 2012
Peter King, NFL Senior Writer for Sports Illustrated, had a message for Miami after wide receiver Phillip Dorsett dropped his third deep pass from Stephen Morris.
Hey Miami: Never throw the ball to that Dorsett guy again. I mean ever.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) October 7, 2012
Twitter was up in arms during the first half about the officiating of the game. John Linder of Sports Radio 560 WQAM in Miami called out the refs.
#UM Question.. did the NFL replacement referees all decide to work tonight's Miami-Notre Dame game. Check for Irish tattoos.— Jon Linder (@LinderWQAM) October 7, 2012
After the Irish went up 27-3 in the third quarter, Chicago Tribune reporter Brian Hamilton pointed out the yardage they have accrued on the ground so far. He also noted the Irish didn't throw once on that 12-play, 86-yard touchdown drive.
Another Cierre Wood TD run on a #NotreDame drive that included zero pass attempts. Irish up 27-3, have 232 yards rushing now.— Brian Hamilton (@ChiTribHamilton) October 7, 2012
Notre Dame Grades
Everett Golson, QB: A
After one series of Tommy Rees failing to record a first down, head coach Brian Kelly had enough. As soon as Golson entered the game, he took over.
Whether it was passing or running, the freshman looked poised and in total control of the Notre Dame offense. He avoided pressure with his feet and made plays when the pocket folded around him.
Cierre Wood, RB: A+
Wood wasn’t the only active running back in the Irish’s dominant performance, but he did put up over 100 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Those touchdowns were the first two of the season for the senior running back. He’d gotten off to a slow start over the past two weeks after serving a two-game suspension to start the season for violating team rules.
Tyler Eifert, TE: B+
Senior tight end Tyler Eifert didn't have a huge game statistically, but he did move into second place in the Notre Dame record books by recording his 100th and 101st receptions, moving on ahead of John Carlson.
Eifert also had a remarkable 23-yard grab down the sideline in the first quarter that put the team around the Miami 10-yard line. Notre Dame settled for a field goal several plays later.
Stephen Morris, QB: C-
A play-action pass on 4th-and-2 from the Notre Dame 6-yard line fell at the feet of his wide receiver and the Hurricanes turned the ball over. That pretty much sums up the day for Morris.
He started out pretty good and made some decent throws downfield, but his receivers were unable to make the play. Drops also plagued his teammates and prevented him from getting into any type of rhythm offensively.
Duke Johnson, RB: C
Johnson is the biggest home run threat the Miami Hurricanes have. He’s got the ability to change a game with one touch of the football.
He had his touches Saturday night at Soldier Field but wasn’t able to make anything of them, as the Notre Dame defense bottled him up for much of the night.
Phillip Dorsett, WR: F
Dorsett, the Hurricanes' go-to guy downfield, failed to haul in any of Stephen Morris’ deep shots. He caught just one pass for a six-yard gain.
In the first quarter, he misjudged two deep balls that would have likely ended with him in the end zone for a score.
Player of the Game: Entire Irish Offensive Line
Notre Dame was impressive, and any of their key players could have been deserving of this honor. But in games like this in which a team runs for over 300 yards, the offensive line needs a little love, too.
The Irish had close to 400 (376) yards and five touchdowns on the ground—a good chunk of that coming in the second half—completely deflating the morale and crushing the will of the Miami Hurricanes.
The No. 9-ranked Irish have a huge game next week against the No.18-ranked Stanford Cardinal in South Bend.
Miami, losers of their second game of the season, will host the 4-2 North Carolina Tarheels in a big ACC matchup next week.
Mike Hoag Jr. is a Breaking News Team writer with Bleacher Report and also covers the NFL and the Cleveland Browns for the site.