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The U Is Back in Its Own Extremely Fun Way

Miami rocked no. 3 Notre Dame—and now has to be taken seriously as a playoff contender

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

You doubted. I doubted. We all doubted. Let us all now drape our turnover chains around our necks and doubt no more. “The U,” as Miami was known in its early 2000s heyday, may not be all the way back, but it doesn’t matter. This season’s Miami Hurricanes aren’t just an extremely fun squad, they’re also a legitimate playoff contender.

After tearing through what was considered a weak non-conference schedule and taking care of 13th-ranked Virginia Tech last weekend with ease, the Hurricanes unleashed a storm on no. 3 Notre Dame at a packed, loud, and raucous Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, trouncing the Irish with a convincing and spotless 41-8 win.

A fun football team doesn’t automatically translate to a successful one, or vice versa (see: Alabama). But with Miami, that’s exactly what’s happening. It begins with the turnover chain—a perfect marketing and recruiting tool that vaults the team into weekly virality and makes their defense a compelling watch during every single snap. The celebratory neckwear, an incentive for a game-changing play, is perfect both as a way to excel on the field and as a form of entertainment. The more the turnover chain appears, the more Miami wins—and the more we all win.

It’s college football symbiosis whether you’re a Hurricanes fan or not. Even legendary defensive back Ed Reed had one of his own.

The Canes were underdogs to the Irish on Saturday, and the chain was brought out and donned on bright orange jerseys not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times, as Miami defense forced a fumble off a sack and picked off Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush twice and backup Ian Book a third time. The latter ended up in a pick-six, which put Miami up 27-0 at the half.

“It’s about time they scored,” head coach Mark Richt said of his team during the halftime interview. He couldn’t help chuckling through it all. He was having fun, too.

Of course fun wouldn’t be fun without victories, and the chain wouldn’t be the chain without turnovers. When a team is undefeated, any perks, props, or hijinks become meaningful and lauded by both insiders and outsiders. And when you’re making statements like the one Miami made against Notre Dame, they almost becomes a part of the success.

How Miami won this game was simple: Turnovers helped, but stopping running back Josh Adams, a dark horse Heisman candidate, was the major key. Adams came into the game averaging nearly 9 yards per carry and 132 yards per game. This season alone, he’d had games of 229 yards, 202 yards, and 191 yards; but on Saturday, every time he touched the ball he was swarmed immediately, stopped repeatedly, and overcome completely. Every hit the Canes brought arrived with a force and speed that Notre Dame just couldn’t contend with. Adams, much like his Irish brethren, found himself in the middle of the storm Saturday, and finished with only 40 yards on 16 carries.

On offense, Miami hummed to the beat of their own running game by the powerful Travis Homer, running for 146 yards, and relied on the pairing of quarterback Malik Rosier, who is raw, athletic, but fearless, and receiver Braxton Berrios, who is electric, highlight-worthy, and has been the breakout star of this team all season.

After a dime from Rosier in the first half, Berrios—who made the perfect grab—even took some time to poke fun at the misnomer slogan previously used to describe this matchup.

Neither Miami nor its lifeless opponent ever gave the boisterous crowd reason to doubt the result of the game or become subdued. The stadium’s energy was emblematic of their team’s convivial playing style and fueled the Hurricanes from kickoff. Even though they were playing the biggest game in school history of the last 10 years, Miami didn’t seem to feel any heat or pressure, just excitement.

Up until this game, it seemed like Miami was playing with house money. That they’d lose sooner or later. That their turnover chain was just a Saturday shtick. That they weren’t legit. But now, after taking down the Hokies, the Irish, and the rest of their schedule, they’ve become not just undefeated, but undeniable. Most of all, they’ve become a team in control of their own destiny—a destiny that includes an unforeseen spot in the 2018 College Football Playoff and an ACC title. Only defending champion Clemson stands in their way.

On Saturday, it wasn’t just Hard Rock Stadium that was abuzz for 60 minutes. The college football world was adrenalized, too. The exhilarating team with a fun prop that was just scraping by grabbed hold of the narrative and made it their own. In their own way, Miami is back and college football is welcoming them with open arms.