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The Journal Gazette

Monday, November 06, 2017 1:00 am

Irish vs. Miami: Kelly tries to downplay hype

ESPN's 'GameDay' to be in Miami when Top 10 teams meet

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

Hype, pressure, excitement, nerves and distractions. They all await No. 3 Notre Dame this week as the Irish pursue their first trip to the fourth College Football Playoff.

A game at No. 7 Miami (8-0) on Saturday night is arguably the most significant regular-season contest for the Irish (7-1) since 2012, which, perhaps ironically, is the year they played at the Hurricanes' stadium in the national championship game against Alabama.

“I don't know that I would parallel the two,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said on his Sunday teleconference. “It's certainly a big game, but we've had big games before. Our team is built differently. I like the way this team is built for big games in terms of our physicality and our ability to take the ball away defensively. I kind of feel better going into this game than maybe the national championship game.”

With ESPN's “College GameDay” coming to Coral Gables, Florida, the off-and-on Notre Dame-Miami series assumes its most glitz since the 1988 meeting that was the subject of the documentary “Catholics vs. Convicts.”

“Let's see: '88, I was a graduate assistant at Grand Valley State,” Kelly said. “I really was more worried about cutting up film and getting my job done than watching what was happening between Notre Dame and Miami. 

“Two programs that have great traditions, that have won national championships. You would think sooner or later they were going to meet again with something on the line. We're excited we're back in that position for our university. Other than that, we don't spend much time thinking about the past.”

Notre Dame couldn't ask for much better health. Of the injury updates Kelly provided Sunday, all were positive.

Starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush and starting running back Josh Adams are both “good to go” after suffering apparent injuries Saturday in a 48-37 win over Wake Forest in Notre Dame's next-to-last home game.

“Brandon Wimbush has a bruised left hand,” Kelly said. “Checked in (Sunday). Ice pack on it. He's good to go. Josh Adams – I want to make sure that everybody is clear on this, because I saw reports out there that he was in concussion protocol – was never, I repeat, never, in the concussion protocol. He felt great (Sunday). He'll continue to practice and be ready for Miami.”

Alizé Mack, who missed the Wake Forest game with a concussion, will return to practice Tuesday. Defensive end Khalid Kareem has a hyperextended knee but will also practice. That leaves second-string running back Dexter Williams as the only uncertainty.

“He's had a quad contusion,” Kelly said. “It's an old injury that has popped up here and there. It's a day-to-day thing.”

As for Wimbush, he said the bruised hand doesn't affect his passes.

“Just being able to push the ball from taking it from under center, but we don't do that too much,” Wimbush said. “We were able to do the things we do under center out of the gun or out of the pistol, so it didn't affect much in terms of the throwing game.”

cgoff@jg.net