A victory in Friday's Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, will not vault either Notre Dame or Miami to top of anybody's list for national title contenders next season.
But safety Harrison Smith said a loss would tarnish the Irish's three wins to close the regular season at 7-5.
"In reality, 7-6 or 8-5, it's not like the end of the world with the record," Smith said. "But to us, keeping the wins going, that is the end of the world to us. That is what we want to keep going."
Setting the stage for next season is also on the mind of Miami quarterback Jacory Harris, whose team swooned to finish 7-5 leading the firing of Randy Shannon and the hiring of Al Golden.
"It will put us off on the right foot coming into next season," Harris said. "We don't want to come into next season with a sour taste in our mouth, thinking about what happened last year."