Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III gave Notre Dame its first 100-yard rushing duo in a decade, and Everett Golson came off the bench to lead the No. 9 Irish to a 41-3 victory over Miami on Saturday night in what was a very tame sequel to the famed "Catholics vs. Convicts" rivalry.
Wood rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns, and Atkinson added 123 yards and another score. Golson, who sat the first series as punishment for violating team rules, completed his first six passes and finished 17 of 22 as Notre Dame improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2002.
The loss snapped a three-game win streak for Miami, which was held to just 285 yards after piling up 1,260 yards and 86 points in its previous two games. The Hurricanes (4-2) were hurt by at least a half-dozen drops by their receivers, including two certain touchdowns by Phillip Dorsett on Miami's very first drive.
Miami's only points came on Jake Wieclaw's 28-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Back in the 1980s, Notre Dame-Miami was perhaps the nastiest, most hotly contested rivalry in college football. Most entertaining, too.
Both teams were ranked in the top 10 when they met in 1987, '88, '89 and '90, and from 1987 through 1989 the winner went on to win the national title. The teams didn't like each other, either, and made no secret of it. Police actually had to be called in to break up a pushing and shoving match as the teams were leaving the field after pregame warmups at Notre Dame Stadium in 1988.
In a video posted on Notre Dame's website, former Irish coach Lou Holtz said he urged his team to avoid any on-field incidents against Miami.
"After we win the game, if Miami wants to fight, fine, we'll meet 'em in the alley," Holtz, on the video, recalled saying to his team. "And if they do, you save Jimmy Johnson's (butt) for me."
The Irish stormed out of the locker room and beat Miami 31-30. Many still consider it the best home win in Notre Dame history, and it propelled the Irish to their eighth — and most recent — national title.
The teams played the next two years before the rivalry was discontinued, with Notre Dame officials feeling "it brought out the worst sides of fans." (Considering it was Notre Dame fans who came up with the "Catholics vs. Convicts" moniker, it's hard to argue with them.) It would be 20 years before the teams would meet again, in the 2010 Sun Bowl.
But that old chippiness was nowhere to be found at Soldier Field. Most of the Irish and Hurricanes weren't even born in 1988, and it's hard to nurse a grudge when the history is so ancient.
Hard when the game is such a mismatch, too.
Miami should have been up 7-0 after its first series, but Dorsett dropped two surefire touchdowns, the second going through his hands on the goal line. Instead of making the Irish play catch-up, the Hurricanes were forced to punt.
Then, after chasing Tommy Rees off the field in three plays, the Hurricanes gave them a second chance when Gabriel Terry was called for roughing the kicker. Golson replaced Rees and, six plays later rushed for what looked like a touchdown. He was ruled down at the 1 upon review, but Theo Riddick scored on the next play and Notre Dame was off and running.
After a missed field goal just before halftime left the Irish with a slim 13-3 lead, they broke the game open on the first series of the second half. Taking off from the Miami 39, Wood ripped off a long run up the right sideline that looked like it was good for a touchdown. But reviews showed he stepped out at the 2. No matter. He rumbled right up the middle on the next play to give Notre Dame a 20-3 lead with just under 12 minutes left in the third.
The Irish chewed up 86 yards, all on the ground, on their next drive, capping it with a 3-yard run by Wood. That gave Notre Dame a 27-3 lead, and the game was all but out of reach.