Freshman Tommy Rees passed for 201 yards and two touchdowns to Michael Floyd as Notre Dame beat Miami 33-17 in the Sun Bowl on Friday, making Chip Kelly the first Fighting Irish coach to win a bowl game during his first season.
And after a 20-year break, it was all Irish in the latest installment of a storied rivalry that became known during the 1980s as Catholics versus Convicts: Notre Dame (8-5) reached the end zone on three of its first four possessions.
Miami trailed 30-3 going into the fourth quarter, and the warm-weather Hurricanes — many wearing head covers under their helmets — struggled much of the afternoon. Jacory Harris threw three interceptions early and found himself replaced by freshman Stephen Morris before the end of the second quarter.
"They call it football weather for a reason. You can't make any excuses," Miami center Tyler Horn said.
Miami scored twice in the fourth quarter when Morris threw a 6-yard TD pass to Leonard Hankerson and a 42-yard scoring play to Tommy Streeter, but it was too late by then. The Hurricanes also had 10 penalties for 106 yards.
"Interceptions and penalties," interim coach Jeff Stoutland said. "I really thought we worked hard and focused on that. It bit us again. It really made the difference in the whole game."
The Canes trailed 27-0 late in the first half and the player with the most catches from a Hurricanes quarterback was Irish safety Harrison Smith, who intercepted three passes. Robert Blanton also had an interception during Miami's turnover binge.
"It was a total defensive effort," Smith said. "When you knock the receivers off and mess up the timing with the quarterback, it really makes it easier for the safeties."
It was a rough finish to a tough season for the Hurricanes, who saw coach Randy Shannon fired in November. Newly hired coach Al Golden watched from a Sun Bowl suite. He saw a team that needs a lot of work.
Harris started at quarterback for the Canes after Morris sprained an ankle in practice this week. Harris couldn't get anything going, completing just 4 of 7 with three interceptions. Morris took over the second quarter and finished 22-of-33 for 282 yards passing with two TDs.
"Early on, we weren't all on the same page," Hankerson said. "I don't want to say we weren't focused but we weren't making any plays."