MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – All week long, the talk was all about the glory of the past. It was expected and it was warranted.
Notre Dame and Miami would be facing each other for just the fourth time since 1990. It would be the first since the match-up 27 years earlier that both would be ranked in the Top 10. Indeed the game between the foes would be similar to their glory days back in the 1980s.
That’s because the Irish looked miserable against the Hurricanes on their homefield once again.
Similar to sound defeats they took in 1985, 1987, and 1989, a strong third-ranked Notre Dame team was blown off the field by Miami with a strong crowd behind them. Three first half turnovers were part of a 27-point run by the seventh-ranked Hurricanes that turned the much hyped match-up into a 41-8 laugher Saturday night.
Once touted as their strongest team since the Lou Holtz era, the Irish now enter the rest of November on the outside looking in at the College Football Playoff in 2017. Barring a few bizarre turns with the teams above them, Brian Kelly’s two-loss team is out of the running for college football’s “Final Four.”
“We just have had one mission, and that is to play to a standard, and we didn’t live up to that standard last night, you know, a standard of excellence that we’ve had since day one, “said Kelly when asked how the team moves forward after the loss. “So we’ll go back to applying that standard in everything we do and our preparation and obviously learn from what happened on Saturday night and look to live up to the standard of excellence at Notre Dame and Notre Dame football on Saturday against Navy.”
It might take a bit of time for the Irish to heal up after very, very bad evening at Hard Rock Stadium.
Brandon Wimbush, who hadn’t thrown an interception since September, threw two on Saturday against Miami. He also had a fumble and was even pulled in the first half for Ian Book until he struggled as well, leading to the starter returning to the lineup in the second half.
Josh Adams rushed for just 40 yards on 16 carries and, like the Irish’s National Title hopes, probably waved goodbye to hopes for a Heisman Trophy.
Life has come at the Irish pretty fast over the past 48 hours. A chance for a No. 1 ranking existed with a strong performance against Miami, now a bad one has left them in limbo with games against Navy and No. 20 Stanford.
Oddly enough, Kelly has twice pointed out the fate of a team that Notre Dame handed a humbling loss to back in October: USC. After a 49-14 loss to the Irish in South Bend, the Trojans have saved their season with three-straight victories and are back up to No. 10th in the Coaches’ Poll this week.
“This is about focus and then refocus. So we really have not talked all year about winning as much as we’ve talked about living up to a standard, and that standard was not met on Saturday,” said Kelly when asked about his comparison to USC. “It’s really refocusing on the standard and not worrying about all of those other things that seem to have maybe gotten us off our process. So really getting back to the things that have gotten us here, and getting back to a level of play that is the appropriate standard for us.
“Look, Ohio State went on the road and had 55 points put up against them when they played Iowa. They came back the next week and really took it to a Michigan State team. It’s really how you respond in college athletics. We’ve got good kids. They really want to win, and I expect them to really come back with a higher standard of play.”
Even if what they are playing for may not been as great as it was just a week ago.