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The Miami Hurricanes and Notre Dame Fighting Irish are ready to rock and roll on Friday afternoon down in El Paso in the Sun Bowl, one of the most highly anticipated games of the bowl season. These two teams are rich of history and tradition, and they should put on a fantastic show to close out 2010.
Sun Bowl Matchup: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Miami Hurricanes
Date: Thursday, December 30th, 2:00 ET
Location: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, TX
Sun Bowl Line: Miami -2.5
Fighting Irish Notes: The Fighting Irish had to fight hard this year just to make it to a bowl game, as they needed to beat at least two of their final three games of the year to finish at .500 to qualify. They did more than that and took down all three, and they are carrying all of the momentum in the world into the Sun Bowl. Three crucial injuries have crushed this team all season long, as QB Dayne Crist, TE Kyle Rudolph, and RB Armando Allen have all missed substantial time. DT Ian Williams has missed over two months as well, but after his knee injury, he is finally going to be back in the fold in all likelihood. Still, this was a team that averaged 25.8 points per game on offense and allowed just 20.5 points per game on the other side of the ball. As always, this team played a brutal schedule, so these seven wins made for a very legitimate team. Keep an eye on QB Tommy Rees in this one. He is the man that replaced Crist in the lineup after he was knocked out for the season against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Rees completed 63.0 percent of his passes for 905 yards with 10 TDs against eight picks. He's going to be looking for the man that was the constant in this lineup all season long, WR Michael Floyd, who is probably the best pro prospect amongst the Golden Domers. Floyd caught 73 passes for 916 yards and ten scores this year, all of which were team highs.
Hurricanes Notes: If anything happens to QB Jacory Harris, the Hurricanes are in a lot of trouble. Both their second and third string quarterbacks are out of the lineup in this one, which leaves on scholarship quarterbacks left to take snaps. Harris has had all sorts of problems staying healthy this year, and as a result, he only completed 54.8 percent of his passes for 1,756 yards and 14 TDs against 12 picks. In spite of the fact that this passing game struggled no matter who was calling the shots, WR Leonard Hankerson was incredibly lethal. He caught 66 passes for 1,085 yards and 12 TDs on the season and is legitimately going to be one of the top receivers drafted in the NFL Draft this coming year. On the ground, the three pack of RB Damien Berry, RB Lamar Miller, and RB Mike James all did well this year, pacing an offense that averaged 191.0 yards per game on the ground. Defensively, this unit really has to step up this year. This was probably the reason that Head Coach Randy Shannon was fired before this game. Though there were times that "The U" really played well on this side of the ball, allowing 167.3 yards per game just wasn't acceptable. This unit did allowed 54 points over the course of the last two games of the season against the Virginia Tech Hokies and the South Florida Bulls.
The Final Word: The Hurricanes just have far too many question marks in this game, and it is a little puzzling to us as to why they are the favorites in this game after having lost back to back games to end the season. Notre Dame is riding a wave of momentum right now, and the Golden Domers should finish up this year with a fulfilling victory in El Paso.
Sun Bowl Free Pick: Notre Dame +2.5
Sun Bowl Prediction: Notre Dame 30 – Miami 21