MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Hard Rock Stadium belonged to the Hurricanes on Saturday night.
No. 7 Miami outplayed third-ranked Notre Dame in nearly every facet of the game, beating the Fighting Irish 41-8 to remain undefeated and possibly position itself for a shot at the College Football Playoff.
On the same day that the Hurricanes clinched the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division for the first time ever, Miami (9-0) extended its winning streak to 14 games -- best in the nation among FBS schools -- and will likely be ranked among the top four in Sunday's rankings. More importantly, though, the Hurricanes could be among the top four teams when Tuesday's CFP rankings are released.
"I never would have predicted what happened, but it happened, and I'm thankful for it," Miami head coach Mark Richt said.
Notre Dame (8-2) punted on each of its first two possessions, setting the stage for Miami's early dominance.
The Hurricanes got off to a 34-0 start behind a stout defense that held Notre Dame to 50 yards of total offense in the first quarter.
Miami got the scoring started on an eight-play, 58-yard drive that was set up by a 25-yard pass from quarterback Malik Rosier to running back Travis Homer. Rosier used his feet to move the Hurricanes to Notre Dame's 7-yard line.
After an incomplete pass to Ahmmon Richards in the end zone on first-and-goal, Rosier found Braxton Berrios on an 8-yard touchdown strike -- his first catch of the evening -- to give Miami a 7-0 lead. On Notre Dame's next possession, quarterback Brandon Wimbush was intercepted by safety Jaquan Johnson to give Miami the ball back at the Notre Dame 32-yard line. Rosier then raced into the end zone on a 16-yard scamper two plays later.
Miami added to the score in the second quarter with a pair of Michael Badgley field goals from 23 and 30 yards out. Badgley's 30-yard kick to put the Hurricanes ahead 20-0 came after Notre Dame's Wimbush was picked off by cornerback Malek Young at the Irish's 22-yard line.
Notre Dame seemed poised to score late in the second quarter, but the 54-yard drive was stalled thanks to another turnover for the Irish. Backup quarterback Ian Book's pass was intercepted by cornerback Trajan Bandy and returned 65 yards for a touchdown to give the Hurricanes a 27-0 halftime lead.
Freshman running back DeeJay Dallas padded Miami's lead with a pair of scores in the second half.
Notre Dame's only points of the game came on Wimbush's 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Alize Mack with 12 seconds left in the third quarter. Wimbush ran into the end zone on a 2-point conversion to narrow Miami's lead, but the damage was already done.
"I think they took offense to the assertion that we'd have a hard time stopping the run game," Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said of his unit.
Miami's "turnover chain" was busy as the Hurricanes forced four turnovers and sacked Wimbush five times. Wimbush, who also fumbled in the fourth quarter, finished the night 10 of 21 passes for 119 yards and the lone score.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes were turnover free. Rosier was 15-for-24 for 137 yards and a touchdown.
Notre Dame's first trip back to South Florida since a humiliating 42-14 drubbing to Alabama in the 2013 national championship game must have felt like déjà vu for the fans who made the long journey from America's heartland.
"I still wouldn't say we're a dominating football team," Richt said. "I mean, tonight was, I guess, a dominating performance, on the scoreboard anyway."
Miami's last loss was at Notre Dame on Oct. 29, 2016.
On a day that No. 2 Georgia also lost, Hurricanes fans are surely thinking their team is in good position to make a significant move in the eyes of the playoff committee.
"This is, to me, natural order restored," Diaz, a Miami native and son of the city's former mayor, said after the game.
But the Hurricanes know they aren't finished yet.
"We're not back until I have a ring on my finger," Rosier said.