Commentary

The Sun Bowl as a defensive showcase

Linebackers take center stage for surprising Irish and Hurricanes defenses

Originally Published: December 30, 2010
By Bill Connelly | Football Outsiders
Getty ImagesMiami's tendency to overpursue on defense could lead to some nice breakaway runs for Cierre Wood.

At Football Outsiders, many of our unique stats are designed to figure out the effect of strength of schedule on basic stats; if you rush for 200 yards against different teams, for example, obviously that has different meanings.

When it comes to the defenses in Friday's Sun Bowl, opponent adjustments made a large difference. Miami ranked 15th in total defense this year, Notre Dame 43rd; but both faced quite a few stout offenses. In F.O.'s Defensive S&P+ rankings, Miami ranked eighth and Notre Dame a surprising fourth. Neither team, particularly Miami, succeeded at a level that would satisfy fans long-term, but to the extent that they did enjoy success in 2010, defense was the primary reason.

How did the Irish rank so high?