The Sun Bowl 2010 has suddenly become one of the most widely anticipated matchups of the 2010 bowl season, as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on the Miami Hurricanes in a renewal of what was once one of college football's best rivalries.
While both teams lack the gaudy records of their heyday, this is still one of the most fascinating bowl games of the season. Why? We're giving you 10 things you need to know about these programs, their histories, and why this matchup is going to be worth catching.
Notre Dame's defense has been inconsistent in 2010, but the Irish find themselves ending the season ranked 29th in college football in points allowed. Led by the one man wrecking crew that is sophomore linebacker Manti Te'o, Notre Dame's defense has the speed and most of the skill it lacked under previous head coach Charlie Weis.
But Miami's unit isn't too shabby either, ranking 21st in college football in points allowed. While they've slumped a bit in recent weeks, they're fully capable of containing the Irish attack.
The Canes' 2010 season began its decline in the team's 31-17 home loss to Virginia Tech in their second to last game of the season. Things got even worse when Miami fell to South Florida at home in their final game of the season.
Then, head coach Randy Shannon was fired, and the Canes were in full-on rebuilding mode for the second time in the last five years.
The team is in disarray right now: Freshman quarterback Stephen Morris can't stop turning the ball over, the defense allowed 31 and 23 points in the last two games, and now they face a high-octane Notre Dame offense.
Can the Canes break out of the season-ending nosedive and salvage some semblance of pride for next year?
The bowl season has not been kind to either of these teams in recent seasons. Miami hasn't won a bowl game since 2006, while prior to 2008 Notre Dame's streak of bowl futility had stretched to 15 years over nine bowl games, and they didn't even go to one last year.
Something's gotta give, right? Either the Irish keep their bowl winning streak going and put 15 years of futility in the rearview mirror, or the Hurricanes win their first bowl game in four years. It should make for must-see T.V.
The Irish enter the Sun Bowl on a serious tear. They seem to have found their stride down the stretch, tearing off three straight impressive wins, including a 28-0 shutout of then No. 14 Utah and a tough 20-16 win over the USC Trojans, a team who had had Notre Dame's number in a big way prior to this season.
Sure, they're 7-5, but the offense looks to be clicking a bit, the defense seems to be gelling into a cohesive unit, and the Irish are hungry to keep the win streak going.
The freshman Irish quarterback is one of the big reasons for Notre Dame's recent three-game win streak. While he's still learning the ropes, Rees looks the part of a big time quarterback.
Remember how head coach Brian Kelly said Rees was much better suited to his system coming into 2010, but Dayne Crist had more experience?
Now we see what Kelly was talking about. Can Rees keep it going and turn into the quarterback his potential shows us he can be?
Remember this one in 1988, when the Notre Dame student section, ever the clever group of kids, came up with those t-shirts?
Now those crazy kids are crazy adults, and guess who's going to be wearing the shirts come New Year's Eve? Exactly. These programs flat out have no love for one another, and you'll see that come the Sun Bowl.
This was the last game between these two storied programs, and it raises Hurricane fans' hackles like 1985 does for the Irish.
Miami was ranked No. 1 in the country when they got to South Bend, well on their way to what they hoped would be a second straight National Title.
Except someone forgot to tell the Irish, who promptly beat the Hurricanes 29-20 and dashed their title hopes. If you think fans forget stuff like that, ask Ohio State how Miami fans reacted when they played again this season.
Notre Dame's offense is still not quite at full capacity, but you know head coach Brian Kelly's offense can put points on the board.
Likewise, Miami's offense has been sputtering recently, but with the kind of speed the Hurricanes possess, they're always a threat.
Look for both teams to come out firing and for this one to be a shootout.
For all of the excitement this series has seen, these teams have never met in a bowl game. You heard that right. In 23 previous meetings, these two juggernauts of the sports world have never met in a bowl.
If you thought things got heated before, just wait until you see these teams go at it with a bowl title on the line.
This one is going to be a barnburner and a close-fought game right up until the final horn sounds. The Irish are on the cusp of great success in 2011, while Miami seems to be headed towards football mediocrity. Can the 'Canes live up to their talent and play like the team we expected them to be this season? Or will the fast-rising Irish silence them in El Paso?
Notre Dame 28, Miami 20. Can they shut down Tommy Rees and Michael Floyd? Perhaps. But with the rate at which their own quarterbacks turned the ball over, expect Miami to go home with a fifth straight bowl loss.