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Who owns the edge? UM-Notre Dame

EL PASO -- For the first time in 20 years we'll get to see the University of Miami take on Notre Dame on a football field. The Irish and Canes are both 7-5 and far removed from their glory days. Still, Friday's 77th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl will mean a lot to the winner in terms of building momentum toward 2011.

The Hurricanes have lost two in a row coming in and the Irish have won three in a row. Yet, the Canes are a 2.5 point favorite. With temperatures forecasted to range from the mid 40s to lows in the 30s (it was feel like the 20s with the wind chill factor) and winds ranging from 15 to 25 miles per hour, it is obvious the conditions will be more familiar for the Irish than UM. So who is going to win? Here's a breakdown:

Miami > When UM runs the ball... Canes ranked 26th in the country in rushing, averaging a little over 190 yards a game on the ground. Notre Dame ranked 56th in run defense (146.75) but surrendered only 93 yards a game in its final three victories. The Hurricanes are led by senior Damien Berry (865 yards, 5 TDs), redshirt freshman Lamar Miller (633 yards, 6 TDs) and sophomore Mike James (384 yards, 3 TDs). Sophomore linebacker Manti Te'o leads the Irish, who run a 3-4 scheme, with 127 tackles, 17th most in the country. As improved as Notre Dame might be against the run, the Hurricanes should still have some success. Edge: Miami.

Notre Dame > When UM throws the ball... Jacory Harris (54.8 pct, 1,756 yards, 14 TDs, 12 INTs) has had trouble with interceptions throughout his career. He'll have Leonard Hankerson (66 rec., 1,085 yards, 12 TDs) to throw to. But Notre Dame's pass defense (ranked 40th) can create problems. The Irish have produced 28 sacks this season and are giving up under 10 yards per completion, one of only eight teams nationally to do that. The Irish have also picked off 14 passes. Darrin Walls has returned two of his five interceptions for touchdowns. The Irish are also very experienced at safety. Edge: Notre Dame.

Miami > When Notre Dame runs the ball... The Irish rank 96th nationally in rushing (121 yards per game) and lost leading rusher Armando Allen (Hialeah-Miami Lakes) for the season in late October. Cierre Wood (522 yards, 2 TDs) has done a decent job filling in. The Canes rank 81st in run defense (171 yards per game) and have been steamrolled on the ground by a few good teams. But the Irish prefer to throw and the Canes, who lead the nation in tackles for loss (8.58 per game), should be able to line up and defend against the run in this game. Edge: Miami.

Miami > When Notre Dame throws the ball... Freshman quarterback Tommy Rees was called into action after Dayne Crist went down against Tulsa with three games left. Rees has thrown at least two touchdown passes in three of his last four games. His favorite target, junior receiver Michael Floyd (73 rec., 916 yards, 10 TDs) ranks second all-time in touchdown catches at Notre Dame and needs only one more to tie Jeff Samardzija. But the Irish will be tested. The Hurricanes pass defense ranks second nationally and has 16 INTs. UM also ranks sixth in sacks (3.1 per game). Normally, this is probably a push. But with the conditions being what they will be, that has to favor the defense. Edge: Miami.

Notre Dame > Special teams... Notre Dame kicker David Ruffer, a former walk-on, is 20 for 20 on field goal attempts since last year -- including a career-long 50-yarder this season. He is 34 of 37 on extra points. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas grad Ben Turk averaged 38.2 yards per punt this season. The Irish blocked a punt against Utah and returned it for a score. The Hurricanes' Matt Bosher has been inconsistent on field goals going 12 of 16 and making only one of three attempts longer than 40 yards. He's averaging 44.3 yards per punt. The Canes had a kickoff and punt return taken back for a touchdown at Ohio State. But they haven't done much since. Edge: Notre Dame.

Notre Dame > Coaching... Since 2001, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has the fifth-most wins of any FBS coach at 101-29 -- only Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Texas' Mack Brown, Ohio State's Jim Tressel and Florida's Urban Meyer had more. UM interim coach Jeff Stoutland, who will return to coach the offensive line for the fifth year, has never been a head coach. Six UM assistants aren't expected back next season and that has to play at least a psychological role. The Irish, meanwhile, are gaining confidence under Kelly. Edge: Notre Dame.

Notre Dame > Intangibles... Who is more battle tested? Notre Dame played the toughest regular season schedule in the country, taking on 11 teams that finished .500 or better, including nine that made it to bowl games. Of Miami's seven wins, only five came against teams with winning records. Who is more disciplined? The Irish are the eighth-least penalized team in the country. UM ranks 114th out of 120 FBS teams in penalties per game. Edge: Notre Dame.

Now that you have seen the edges who do you think is going to win and why? Provide your prediction below. Susan Miller Degnan and I will announce our picks shortly before kickoff on Twitter.

Comments

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In bowl games, where teams have too much time off, it can take the offense a while to get untracked. The wind, if as described will play havoc with Jacory's loop de loop passes.
The fans will be 75% for the Irish, the officials calls as well, especially if this is a Big 10 or SEC crew.
We run for 175+, we win, if not, my prediction will, unfortunately come to be.
Notre Dame 24 UM 13

IGNORE the above, GO CANES

Happy new year to both Manny and Susan, and all here.

Canes will win the battle up front, much better running game and stronger D Line. Playing for Mike James and family and getting ready for Coach Golden. Canes 31-13

It comes down to the QB play. Throw completions, we win - throw INTs and we lose.

Manny, based on your analysis, which for the most part I agree with, UM stands little chance of winning this game. Factor in the snowy and windy conditions, and you have the potential for another boring and lackluster loss for the U.

That said, there is one element no one has mentioned that I think is "huge" in this game. The impact of that element will be measured not by it's presence at the game, but rather it's lack of presence at the game. Yep, you guessed it, Randy Shannon. For the record, I was never a big Shannon supporter as head coach, thinking he was way over his head and abilities. This will be the first true test of what this team can be "without" Randy standing in the way. Let's all agree, Shannon rarely did anything to put this team in a position to win. Today, we'll find out if it was Shannon's coaching or lack there of, or if we just don't yet have the quality players to be "relevant."

I still have hope that Miami can pull this one out, but I predict ND wins it, 17-7.

Go Canes!

It could go either way, but I'm going with the home team. The Canes.

I hate to say, but there are too many unknowns...Hopefully we can come out fired up and win it!

My heart says Miami, but my head says Notre Dame 28-24.

I still love my 'Canes though!

I don't watch ND, so tough to say who is going to win.

I'm just looking for our team to come out with enthusiasm and to play fast. Limit mistakes and play physical. Especially on defense.

This game is more important than it seems. It's important to recruiting, the off-season program, and momentum for next year.

Not sold on AL Golden..

Happy New Year Everyone!! Jimmy Johnson said it best "Speed Kills". If Jacory doesn't throw four inceptions this one could be a laugher. Canes 31 Irish 14. GO CANES!

Oh, and it's presently 32 degrees in El Paso. And to make matters worse, the oxygen starved moonlike atmosphere all the way up at El Paso's 3800 feet atltitude makes spaces heaters very ineffective. You see they require oxygen to produce heat. Not good candy canes.

There may be several reasons affecting the outcome of the game, but lack of oxygen ain't gonna be one of them. That's hilarious.
Do they have cars with internal combustion engines (requiring Oxygen) in El Paso?

As someone who lives at high altitude (8500') I can assure you that space heaters will work quite well. 3800 feet isn't exactly "oxygen starved."

Go Canes!

Canes, time to strap it up and man up. Take it very personal. What happens today will have a big effect for the next 4 years as it can impact recruit decisions. Forget the cold. Be the cold!
Go Canes!

Hope the Canes win.

Fear they may not play up to potential again.

Weather may not help the speed game.

The defense must play ferociously.

A matter of desire. ND will bring it. Miami?
GO CANEs!

Yea, when you're a Gators fan who cares enough about what Miami's doing that you look up the weather report for our game you're pretty much just making a mockery of yourself.

Two hours till kickoff and it's still 34 degrees in ol' El Paso. Jasorry's skinny little fingers won't respond well to a wet cold heavy ball.

I have it on good word that lameduck Stoutland is having the entire team and staff take regular blows of oxygen to offset the depleting effects of El Paso's 3800 foot alpine-like altitude.

Good luck boys. If a storm rolls in get off the face of the mountain immediately. We don't want to lose anybody up there. Bring home everybody.

OK Al, just keep checking the weather forecast for UM's game and update us as often as you can. Even if nothing changes, we'd still like to be kept in the loop with your nonstop study of everything related to UM football.

The only ND game I got to watch was when they played Navy. Navy ran all over them using essentially the same offense that Georgia Tech uses. Navy was able to bust a few big runs up the middle and their perimeter and short passing game was clicking. In these weather conditions the running game and short passing game have to be effective to be able to win this one. Canes win this one because they will be trying to win one for Mike and Al Golden is watching.

UM sucks - this wasn't as close as the store indicates.

Once again - and three out the last four - Catholics destroy the convicts.

Sorry IBGO, but the Canes took this one in the arse!

The game was never in doubt from the opening kickoff. The only thing the Canes showed Mike and Al Golden is that there's a lot of work to do.

Go Irish!

The 'canes should have stayed in Florida. The Irish took the stick to them. Al Golden has a lot of work a head of him. GO IRISH!

if JAcory doesn't throw 4 interceptions. who said that? must be a subway alumni from Miami. b/c it was a fairly intelligent comment. and if you had a brain, why would you goto Miami? on the other hand, I hate miami, so Go canes! what time is the game on???

oops, i meant i have Notre Dame. they think they're so much better than everyone else at preparing people for life. they say everyplace else is just a college. they say God lives there. they say their graduates kick ass later in life. and they say every hot HS recruit is an idiot if they dont' try to study hard enough and get grades high enough to get in there. guess i agree, but i'm still jealous, i languished at stanford instead - i coulda been a contender, if i had only gone to Notre Dame. oh well, maybe my kids will study harder than i did and they can go there. can't wait for the game. on, byw, my internet is slow here in my trailer park so i'm not sure how long it'll take for this post to hit the Miami high school newpapers...

A BEAT DOWN....The score makes it look closer than it was....Whoever it was that said Speed Kills, was right. Notre Dame was faster, tougher and stronger. Dominate.

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