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Sun Bowl Preview: Notre Dame, Miami (FL) Aren't What They Once Were

Hyundai Sun Bowl, December 31, 2:00 p.m. ET, CBS

What it is: A matchup of teams that both hit heights in the late '80s and early '90s but are merely 7-5 teams this season.

The teams: Notre Dame and Miami (FL)

How Notre Dame got here: Notre Dame lost its decided schematic advantage when it fired Charlie Weis last year. However, the school made up for it by bringing in Brian Kelly, its first coach with a successful college track record prior to arrival since Lou Holtz. It was a roller coaster ride for a while, with the big dip being back-to-back losses to Navy and Tulsa. In the latter of those two, Kelly even lost starting quarterback Dayne Crist to injury. However, losing a quarterback to injury brought him back into his Cincinnati comfort zone, and backup Tommy Rees led the team to wins over Utah, Army, and USC in the Irish's final three games.

How Miami (FL) got here: The Hurricanes were supposed to compete for an ACC Championship after winning nine games in 2009 and nearly knocking off Wisconsin in last year's Champs Sports Bowl. The first warning sign was a deceptively uncompetitive trip to Columbus, where two return touchdowns kept the game from being 36-10 loss. They also got throttled by Florida State and gave Virginia its only ACC win of the season. Jacory Harris was up-and-down with a 12/14 TD-INT ratio, and he missed Miami's loss to Virginia Tech. A season-closing loss to USF was the final straw. Randy Shannon got fired shortly thereafter, and the team hired Temple's Al Golden to replace him.

College football fans care because: It's a new edition of Catholics versus Convicts, and there's the possibility of cocaine barons making the trip over from Ciudad Juarez to put in a hit on Michael Irvin on the sideline.

SEC fans care because: Who doesn't like rooting against Notre Dame? Or Miami?

Watch this game if...: You want to see one of only two bowl telecasts outside the ESPN family of networks.

The result: Notre Dame 24, Miami 17