Will improved Irish D set bowl record?

Second in a series examining Notre Dame bowl records.

At least publicly, Miami interim coach Jeff Stoutland still hasn’t settled on a starting quarterback for the Hurricanes’ Sun Bowl clash with Notre Dame on New Year’s Eve in El Paso, Texas. The competition between Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris was tight throughout the team’s preparation for the Irish.

Miami (7-5) averaged just over 422 yards of total offense and 27 points per game this season, with a balanced attack that was nearly an even split between the rushing and passing. However, the Hurricanes weren’t that great in scoring position, with only 28 touchdowns in 50 red-zone trips. Notre Dame (7-5) climbed back into the bowl picture by tightening the screws on defense, which was mostly responsible for the Irish winning their last three games.

Here’s a look at some of Notre Dame’s defensive bowl records and impressive individual performances, as well as a few records by opponents that the Irish defense would rather not see broken:

Interceptions: Not since Elmer Layden against Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl has an Irish player intercepted two passes in a postseason contest. Layden returned the picks for a combined 148 yards, one of which he took back 78 yards, records in both categories. This season, safety Harrison Smith snagged four interceptions and cornerback Darrin Walls added three to pace the Irish.

Tackles: Rod Smith recorded a staggering 18 solo tackles versus Florida in the 1992 Sugar Bowl -- a program best for both unassisted and total stops in a bowl game for ND. Jay Case had nine assisted tackles at the 1979 Cotton Bowl against Houston. Brian Smith had 10 assists in a victory against Utah and fellow inside linebacker Manti Te’o registered 21 stops in a loss to Stanford.

Opponent rushing: Rondell Mealey (LSU) punked Notre Dame for 222 yards on the ground in the 1997 Independence Bowl, including a 78-yarder --

the longest ever against the Irish in a bowl game. Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers scored three touchdowns in the 1973 Orange Bowl.

Opponent passing: Florida’s Shane Matthews’ 58 attempts, 28 completions and 370 yards in the 1992 Sugar Bowl were all postseason bests against an Irish defense. Oregon State’s Derek Anderson also completed 28 passes in the 2004 Insight Bowl and he tied FSU’s Danny Kanell (1996 Orange Bowl) with four TD passes.

Opponent receiving: Jerricho Cotchery caught 10 balls in the 2003 Gator Bowl for NC State and Ohio State’s Ted Ginn Jr. enjoyed 167 receiving yards in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, where Buckeyes quarterback Troy Smith also connected with a record-setting 85-yard pass to Santonio Holmes. FSU’s Andre Cooper caught three TD passes from Kanell in 1996.