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Insider

The Sun Bowl as a defensive showcase

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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?