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Miami-Notre Dame matches power against power

For Notre Dame and Miami, it is strength versus strength.

Notre Dame has one of the nation's best rushing offenses and nearly twice as many touchdowns on the ground as it did last season. Miami's undefeated start and re-emergence in the national picture has been fueled by a defensive front seven that likes to describe itself as violent.

So when No. 3 Notre Dame (8-1) visits No. 7 Miami (8-0) for a nationally televised showdown between longtime rival programs on Saturday night, that matchup will likely tell the tale of who emerges with its national title hopes still looking realistic.

"It's an outstanding front four," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said about Miami. "The linebackers run and tackle as well as any group that we've played.

"They can play a number of different coverages by keeping three linebackers on the field and that's pretty hard to do today in college football. A unique skill-set in that group."

Kelly spent much of his weekly news conference Tuesday raving about the Hurricanes' defense. In Coral Gables, Miami's Mark Richt offered similar sentiments about the Irish offense.

"Their offensive line, probably the best in America," Richt said. "I don't think very many people would argue that. Very experienced but very, very talented. They're paving the way, over 300 yards per game rushing and this isn't triple-option football. This is just line up and physically move people off the ball, a kick-your-tail type offensive line and great runners."

Notre Dame has rushed for at least 318 yards in each of its last five games. The Irish already have nearly 1,000 more yards on the ground this season through nine games than they did in all of last season.

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