ND-Miami history excites current players

A pregame brawl in the tunnel before Miami played in South Bend in 1988 was typical of the rivalry. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, is far from the sexiest postseason destination for a proud Notre Dame football program. Same goes for Miami. Combined, however, the Irish and the Hurricanes make the New Year's Eve game must-see television for most fans. If either squad needed extra motivation after average seasons, that Christmas wish was granted.

One of the more exciting rivalries will be renewed after a 19-year hiatus -- a break nearly as long as most of the players involved in the latest installment have been alive.

Here's the perspective from South Bend:

Safety Harrison Smith: "I'm pretty sure that my age group, we all grew up watching the Miami teams that were, you know, dominant. We all were kind of fans of Miami and always wanted to either play against them, play for them or whatever. So I think that's kind of something that a lot of guys are excited to do and that's play against the Hurricanes.

"... But at the same time, I think just kind of knowing how good Miami has been and how athletic they are as a team, how much speed they have and just how aggressive they play, it's just a fun matchup for us."

Quarterback Tommy Rees: "Very excited. Getting a chance to play Miami is a huge upside for our program and everyone is really excited to add some tradition to an already pretty storied rivalry. I'm pretty familiar with it. Obviously, in the late '80s and early '90s there were great teams on both sides and they had some pretty heated games.

"Like I said before, we're just excited to add our own little spin to that. You kind of have to shut that out and just get prepared to play another football game. Miami is a great team. They're going through a little bit of changes, but, you know, they have speed all over the field and are going to be one of the better teams we play all year. So we've got to be prepared and just get ready to play."

Linebacker Darius Fleming: "We know this is a big game. ... People want to see this; they haven't seen this in a while. ... They have a lot of fast guys out there; they have athletes at every position on the field."

Receiver Michael Floyd: "I feel great to be a part of this, to play them. Two huge football programs and just to play a team that back in the day was one of the biggest games of all-time, just to play them again feels great. I think wherever we go it's always sold out. A lot of the attention building up to this game just because its history behind it ... just to be a part of it, it's going to be a great game."

Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore: "Their offensive line is big. They're athletic and they've got a great front. They're quick, too, and they've got some pretty good receivers. So, it's going to be a great challenge for us. Let's go. We knew it was going to be a rivalry. We didn't really know too much about the Sun Bowl, but like I said earlier, it was selling out in record time."