Thursday, December 30, 2010

Miami-Notre Dame Sun Bowl Prediction

The Hurricanes and Irish renew their rivalry in a bowl game that sold out in 36 hours.

When: Dec 31 2PM
Where: El Paso, Texas
Line: Miami -3 (open -3)

Below are the three key areas I look at in making my bowl picks.

Who Has The Better Team?
Miami Offense Yards Per Point(YPP): 15.6
Notre Dame Offense YPP: 14.7

Miami Defense YPP: 15.9
Notre Dame Defense YPP: 17.2

Miami has 110 yards per game advantage over their opponents but was only 7-5 on the season. This big of an advantage in total yards with a poor record usually means a team has an issue with turnovers. And sure enough the Hurricanes rank 78th nationally in turnover margin although Notre Dame is not a lot better at 73rd.  I like yards per point because of the efficiency it captures on each side of the ball.  Yards per play is good to, but doesn't take points scored/allowed into account.

Miami Sagarin Rating: 33rd with the 32nd ranked Strength of Schedule
Notre Dame Sagarin Rating: 27th with the 23rd ranked Strength of Schedule

The Fighting Irish's highly rated schedule is a bit of a surprise but unexpectedly good seasons from Stanford, Michigan State, and Army helped.
Edge: Even

Which Coach Will Have Their Team Better Prepared?
Notre Dame's Brian Kelly bowl record is 2-1 with all three games coming at Cincinnati; Kelly's team was favored in all three.

Miami will be going with interim coach Jeff Stoutland who took over for the fired Randy Shannon. Stoutland has never been a head coach at the FBS level. This Miami team is 0-2 in bowl games.
Edge: Notre Dame

Which Team Is More Motivated?
Miami fans are not going to like this but there is some evidence to back it up. I wonder how much fight the Hurricanes have for this game, especially if they fall behind. Once the ACC title was gone after the loss to VT, Miami didn't show a lot of emotion in a home game against South Florida they should have won. If Shannon is still coaching this game I think the emotion would be much stronger ala Lloyd Carr, but he isn't.

On the other side, Notre Dame is on a hot streak after a rocky start to the season on and off the field. This season is still disappointing, but a bowl win would get 2011 off to a good start.
Edge: Notre Dame

As much as I want Miami to win this game, I just don't think an interim coach with a team possibly unmotivated to play will. These Hurricane players never watched the Catholics vs Convicts games and don't look at Notre Dame as a marquee school. Also, the Irish will likely have a big home field advantage in El Paso due to the high Catholic population.

Notre Dame 27 Miami 21
Confidence: 17

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